Reviews

A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

arthuriana's review against another edition

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3.0

one of my favourite books involve a crime-solving religious brother sometime during the middle ages, so reading the blurb of this book made me quite sure that this would have been a pleasure to read. suffice to say, it is quite the adventure: its environment is excessively rich, the characters well-drawn, and the narrative quite intriguing; but unfortunately, i didn't like it as much as i thought i would have.

while the story in these pages are quite riveting in its own right, it still lacked the finer details of historical minutiae that i first wanted to have. i have long been interested in religion and history, and religious history mixing the two of them is a match made in heaven—yet sadly while this book delved into either subjects quite well, it never combined the two together. perhaps its recounting of the translation of saint winifred would have been charming years ago, but now it just seems like a historical footnote barely even given the attention it deserves.

yet for what it's worth, i do quite like this book. i'm probably going to pick up the sequel because, again, history-laden mystery narratives with a strong reek of religion hit a certain sweet spot for me. besides, it's well-written and quite rewarding, if i do say so myself. i won't say anything about the mystery itself because, again, i'm usually quite gifted in seeing mysteries a while off and so i was barely surprised; but it does the tricks of the crime mystery genre quite well.

ntrlycrly's review against another edition

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3.0

This was a re-read as I had read several of these mysteries well before Goodreads. Overall easy read about a less than devout monk who would rather just be left to work in his herb garden except for having to deal with an overly ambitious Prior and murderous politics that ensue.

catherine_t's review against another edition

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4.0

If ever I'm asked which fictional detective I'd like to spend the day with, I'd pick Brother Cadfael. Cadfael is the protagonist of the series of novels by the late Ellis Peters, a Benedictine monk of the abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in 12th-century Shrewsbury, England, an eminently sensible fellow with a great understanding of human nature, more so than most of his brethren.

In *A Morbid Taste for Bones,* the first in the series, Cadfael wangles his way into a pilgrimage to Wales, mostly on the basis that Prior Robert will need someone to translate for him, and as Cadfael is a Welshman born and bred, he's the obvious choice. The reason for the pilgrimage is that Brother Columbanus, a young and exceedingly devout monk, has been cured of a fit by the waters of Holywell, blessed by St. Winifred of Gwytherin, and Brother Jerome has had a vision that the relics of St. Winifred should come to the abbey at Shrewsbury. Prior Robert has been searching for a saint to bring pilgrims and glory to the abbey, so this seems to be an answer to their prayers. However, when they arrive in Gwytherin, the monks discover that St. Winifred isn't as neglected as they'd thought, and the entire town turns out to voice their opposition. But when the monks' main opponent turns up dead, Cadfael suspects a more earthly perpetrator.

The plot is in essence fairly straightforward and in the Golden Age "fair play" tradition, the reader can follow the clues along with the detective to reach the conclusion. I wavered until the revelation as to whom the murderer was, but in the end was satisfied. I won't give anything away here, of course; you'll have to read it for yourself. Suffice it to say, it's still a fairly surprising ending.

patrick_114's review against another edition

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2.0

For such a short book, it felt like a slog. I probably won't read more of this series.

mintlovesbooks's review

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mysterious reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

With no relics in the reliquary of Shrewsbury Abbey, its prior sets his eyes on the Welsh village of Gwytherin, hoping to acquire a local saint's relics. The prior puts together an expedition to Gwytherin which includes Brother Cadfael, who is to act as the group's interpreter. Naturally, the people of Gwytherin are not pleased with the prior's plans. However, when the most adamant opponent in the village to moving Saint Winifred's remains is found dead, Cadfael becomes suspicious. He knows that it wasn't Saint Winifred who killed the man; it was a mortal man who must be found. 

This book came highly recommended to me from a cozy mystery group I'm in and it did not disappoint! It's a thoughtful historical mystery set in 12th century Wales with interesting characters and a deeper philosophical message (which is something you don't often see in mystery novels). Brother Cadfael in particular, is an intelligent and empathetic man who also happens to be rather adept at solving mysteries. 

As an irreligious person, I sometimes find it difficult to understand and enjoy books where religion is important to the plot because the references and allusions fly right over my head. Thankfully, that wasn't the case with this book at all, which I really appreciated!

I do recognize however, that this book isn't going to be for everyone. For one, the language used can be a bit difficult to understand (which is understandable, given that it's set in medieval times). But the language, combined with the wordiness, can make for a tough read. It's also a slower-paced mystery. The mystery is not the 'star' of the plot, as it doesn't begin to unfold until several chapters into the book. There are also other plotlines, including the dispute over what to do with Saint Winifred's relics and complicated relationships between characters.

All in all, I really enjoyed this read, and I think mystery fans who are looking for something a little different from the books usually found in the genre might enjoy it too. In 1990, this book was listed in the top 100 crime novels of all time by the Crime Writers Association in the UK. After reading this book, I can see why they included it!

For more of my reviews, please visit:
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slategrey's review against another edition

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4.0

3.75 out of 5

drtlovesbooks's review against another edition

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4.0

I have fallen off from reading mysteries - they tend to take their time developing, and I tend to prefer a plot that rollicks right along. I had borrowed this from the library for my wife, who loves historical fiction and mysteries, and this is both. As she was occupied with another book and I was not, I figured I'd give this one a go, and I was not disappointed.

Brother Cadfael was a very interesting character, and the idea of a medieval monk solving mysteries worked.

I don't know if I'm going to pursue the rest of the series, but I wouldn't ignore them if they fell into my path.

lizaericagardiner's review against another edition

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mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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anngirl's review against another edition

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4.0

Very cleverly written! I need Cadfael's backstory, now!

poirot's review against another edition

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5.0

The beginning was a little slow and the book was somehow longer than I expected but I absolutely loved the story though. The characters were great, the writing was amazing and it was just a very fun read in general! Can’t wait to read other books from this series!