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A Morbid Taste for Bones

(Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  35,501 ratings  ·  1,657 reviews
The Prior of Shrewsbury wants the miraculous bones of Saint Winifred, and he sends Brother Cadfael to claim them.
Paperback, 250 pages
Published 1984 by Futura Books (first published 1977)
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David Charlton
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Edith He participated in the Crusades, and he was captain of a ship. He is the herbalist at the Shrewsbury Monastery.
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Start your review of A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1)
Great historical mystery series.

Since this info was hard for me to find, below is a list of the Cadfael novels in order of publication:

A Morbid Taste for Bones

One Corpse Too Many

Monk's Hood

St. Peter's Fair

The Leper of St. Giles

The Virgin in the Ice

The Sanctuary Sparrow

The Devil's Novice

Dead Man's Ransom

The Pilgrim of Hate

An Excellent Mystery

The Raven in the Foregate

The Rose Rent

The Hermit of Eyton Forest

The Confession of Brother Haluin

The Heretic's Apprentice

A Rare Benedectine

The Potter's Field
Henry Avila
The mid 12th century England in the Abbey of Shrewsbury lives a Welsh Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael, an unusual member in as he fought and killed in the Holy Land during a bloody crusade, known women intimately, a soldier, captain of a ship too, however now retired to the quiet life of a monastery raising crops to feed his fellow "inmates" and doing quite interesting experiments to improve them, a scientist without a title. Weeding unwanted plants may seem a tedious work for a man who experie ...more
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters is a 2014 Mysterious Press/ Open Road Media publication. (This book was originally published in 1977)

I have been curious about this series for a very long time. I love the Medieval period in history so it should be right up my alley. The series is a long one- with at least twenty installments, which is one reason why it has taken me this long to finally take the plunge. Thankfully, my Kindle Unlimited subscription paid off, so now it will be easy for me
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Affectionate Sarcasm

This first Cadfael story is about clerical arrogance, deceit, vanity, pettiness, ambition, vengefulness, and ultimately homicide in a 12th century monastic community. It also touches on idolatry and superstition in medieval Britain. And it makes several clever swipes at clerical celibacy and misogyny, miracles, religious piety, and the efficacy of prayer. Yet for all that it cannot be judged anti-religious. It is clearly a work in which there is an underlying appreciation for
"Justice can be arrived at by more routes than one."

I thought this book was a swell start to this series! Brother Cadfael, monk by vocation and detective by circumstance, is a really delightful character. A medieval-time, Welsh-born man, Cadfael now carries out his monastic duties at Shrewsbury Abbey in England. He has not been in the service of the church his entire life, however, and that is what makes him such an intriguing fellow. "For Brother Cadfael had come late to the monastic life, like
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of historical mysteries
Recommended to Werner by: I was a fan of the PBS Brother Cadfael episodes on Mystery!
Note, Aug. 7, 2017: I edited this just now to correct a minor typo.

Dame Edith Pargeter had already, by 1977, made a reputation for herself, under the pen name of Ellis Peters, as a mystery writer; but under her own name, she was also a respected author of historical fiction, much of it set in medieval Wales. When she brought the two genres together in this first of many novels, set in the border country between England and Wales (where she grew up) in the turbulent mid-1100s and featuring Brothe
The first of the Brother Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters, which I have just discovered is a pseudonym for Edith Pargeter, a Welsh woman by birth and a historian by nature. I would not have suspected that these stories were written by a woman because she captures the brothers of the Shrewsbury Abbey, a Medieval enclave of male figures, perfectly,

From the stuffy, overblown Prior Robert to Brother Cadfael himself, every character is believable and interesting. You soon realize that it takes all kin
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is actually quite good.

I must admit though, I had a hard time getting through it. In fact, I pretty much had to sit myself down and force myself to read through to the end. I’ve decided that has much more to do with me than the book itself (consequently my high rating). The truth is, I just don’t like mysteries, and now I know that even by setting the mystery in a fascinating time period, this doesn’t change. When I was younger, I used to read every Agatha Christi ‘Poirot’ story I cou
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the very first book in the Cadfael series; first published in 1977, and set in 1137, it still reads as though it could has been released this month. This is a timeless, classic mystery and an enjoyable introduction to the world of Cadfael and his fellow brothers at the Shrewsbury abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

Brother Cadfael has arrived late to the cloister, after a full and eventful life. Now in his mid fifties, he has left the world behind him, embraced the monastic life and tend
Susan in NC
8/2019 - reread (listened to the audiobook this time, love Patrick Tull’s narration); what a wonderfully satisfying ending- makes me chuckle every time!

2017 - I first read Brother Cadfael over 30 years ago during high school and college breaks; I became addicted and thus began a lifelong love of accurate and well-written historical mysteries.

I’d seen reviews by GR friends and felt it was time to revisit Shrewsbury and the delightful world of Cadfael. This was a very satisfying re-read for me, an
I am quite sure that I used to own a copy of this novel, back in the early 1980s. I finally donated it because I just couldn’t get into the story. Now, I look back at my younger self and shake my head, because this time around I found the story to be very accessible and very easy to engage. Another instance of the right book at the right time—not suitable for me in my 20s, but eminently suitable for me in my 50s.

I think that Brother Cadfael will become an old friend—I will certainly be reading t
Marvelous story. You have to read it to find out exactly what happens. A fun spoof on religion. The historical detail, the characters, and the humor are enchanting. By the end I loved Brother Cadfael and all the villagers of Gwytherin, Wales. An utterly charming tale and funny too!
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I read some of the Brother Cadfael books years ago & found them just ok. May have been my age or (more likely) that this is a series that needs to be read in order. Clearly there is more to the good brother than his skills as a herbalist! No doubt more will be revealed about his past in later books.

I don't know anything about 12th century Wales or England, but certainly Peters had given the narrative & dialogue a very authentic feel. & monastery politics feels like modern office or school staffr
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$1.99 Kindle sale, today (Dec. 13, 2017) only. Some of my GR friends love this medieval mystery series, so I think I'm going to give it a shot. ...more
Albeit that Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series is probably my favourite historical mystery series bar none, I also have to admit that I have NEVER really all that much either liked or even appreciated the first instalment of the series, that Peters' A Morbid Taste for Bones has always (and from day one so to speak) continually left me both cold and personally rather unsatisfied. And yes, when I first read A Morbid Taste for Bones in the early eighties (probably around 1983, when I was seventee ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ace by: Ancient & Medieval Fiction
My first by this author introducing Brother Cadfael who's powers of observation and deduction ensure that he's always a part of the action and at times a little above the law. I enjoyed his character, he has a bit of a history, is not exactly pious and is a bit cheeky.
Blaine DeSantis
Interesting book set back in 1145 AD, about a Benedictine Brother who solves mysteries. Is short, barely 200 pages, but I found it a slow and tedious book to read. This is the first of 20 books in the series and so obviously it is a popular series. The plot is interesting enough, as well as the solving who killed the one individual in the book, but again it was just a slow read for me. I may try one more in the series to see if they get better or whether being more familiar with the characters I ...more
Bionic Jean
Ground-breaking novel about a medieval Welsh monk - who also happens to be a detective. This paved the way for a whole series, and also many imitations, which continue to abound.
aPriL does feral sometimes
'A Morbid Taste for Bones' by Ellis Peters is the first novel in this witty historical series about the medieval sleuth Brother Cadfael. Cadfael, a Benedictine monk, has his tongue always firmly planted into his weathered cheek.

Fifty-seven-year-old Brother Cadfael is a giant Intellect among pigmies. That said, he is more than satisfied to help people without their knowing it if it is at all possible, but usually if people do know how he has come to their aid, the circumstances are such it is in
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is at its core a whodunnit however what sets it apart is the setting - 12 century in and around Shrewsbury. Now The first thing that I want to say is that this book (and in fact the whole series being written between the mid 70s and mid 90s) was ground breaking as no one had really broken the historical fiction genre and certainly not mixing it with the crime genre as well. However Ellis Peters did so and repeatedly.

Now I am sure there were books in this style written before Cadfael and th
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf-euro, britain, 1970s, mys-hf
Didn't read this enjoyable informative series until after retiring.
Exceptional treat to spend time with Brother Cadfael, made rare by not experiencing series burnout. Glad I could read them all in a short time span.
For Cadfael fans, you might also like the author's Heaven Tree trilogy, perhaps try the first volume.
The Heaven Tree Trilogy
In time and setting context, perhaps Penman would appeal with Here Be Dragons.
Jason Koivu
What a great start to this medieval monastic mystery series! I loved the story, the twists, the characterizations, the inclusion of historical elements...just everything!

I began the Cadfael series haphazardly, picking up the books whenever I'd find them, which meant I was reading them out of order. I wasn't blown away by the first one, so it took years before I picked up the next, which I didn't like much better to be honest. However, there was something about it that made me give the next one a
So this was my first foray into Ellis Peter's quaint medieval world of a man who's opted to live out his golden years as a brother in a Benedictine monastery in Shrewsbury, England. Brother Cadfael has found his calling as an herbalist and gardener and takes pride in ferrying the younger brothers of the order through their novitiates. He's lived a full and varied life, traveling the world as a soldier and sailor and getting his share of the ladies while he was at it.

As the story begins Prior Ro
Abigail Bok
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rereading this book after decades found me a different reader: some of the pleasures from this beguiling series remain while others have faded to problematic.

Brother Cadfael is a Benedictine monk at an abbey in Shrewsbury, and English town on the border of Wales, in the late Middle Ages (an unknown year some time after the Norman conquest but when Wales was still a cluster of small principalities). Cadfael is himself of Welsh origins, though he knocked about the world quite a bit, including part
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
If I take four days to read a 250-page story, I am unexcited. That is daunting because I have gathered over twenty of Ellis Peters' prolific novels! Her real name was Edith Pargeter. I thought I would love these mysteries which are so revered. I like the characters and originality of their attributes, setting, and era but positively winced over such indulgent writing: the most important aspect for me. I can read any subject if the author is captivating. "A Morbid Taste For Bones" is slow-paced a ...more
2.0 to 2.5 stars. I picked this book up after really enjoying Dissolution by C. J. Sansom and wanting to try another historical mystery. While well written, I found this book to be fairly dull and the main character not nearly as interesting as Sansom's Matthew Shardlake. Not horrible by any means, just not great. ...more
I discovered Brother Cadfael through Derek Jacobi and I'm happy to report that I like the books as much, although I keep hearing Jacobi speak Brother Cadfael's words. This was a great start to the series, and I look forward to reading future books. They're fairly short, and each book completes the mystery so that you're not left hanging (at least from what I can tell). I discovered these books thanks to Goodreads and I'm thankful to friends here who recommended it. Definitely worth reading! ...more
Book Concierge
The head of the Benedictine Abbey in Shrewsbury, England, sends an expedition of monks to retrieve the remains of Saint Winifred from her resting place in Gwytherin, Wales. But the villagers of Gwytherin are not uniformly keen on the idea of losing their beloved saint. When the leading opponent to moving the saint’s bones is found dead, apparently shot with an arrow, some take it as a sign that the Saint approves the move. But Brother Cadfael recognizes that the murder was done by a human, and t ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior Robert wants to remove Saint Winifred's bones from a Welsh village to the monastery. Someone opposed to the plan is found dead. Brother Cadfael, former Crusader turned monk, suspects a fellow monk's responsibility for the murder and investigates. The author often uses medieval vocabulary, appropriate to the setting, which slows one's speed, but it is worth the reader's effort. ...more
Sharon Penman
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the Brother Cadfael series, except for the very last book. My favorite is Virgin in the Ice.
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A pseudonym used by Edith Pargeter.

Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM was a prolific author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics; she is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both historical and modern. Born in the village of Horsehay (Shropshire, England), she had Welsh ancestry, and many of her sho

Other books in the series

Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #2)
  • Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3)
  • Saint Peter's Fair (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #4)
  • The Leper of Saint Giles (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #5)
  • The Virgin in the Ice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #6)
  • The Sanctuary Sparrow (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #7)
  • The Devil's Novice (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #8)
  • Dead Man's Ransom (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #9)
  • The Pilgrim of Hate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #10)
  • An Excellent Mystery (The Cadfael Chronicles, #11)

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