Reviews

A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

denidax's review against another edition

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3.0

I found this book a bit difficult to read mainly due to the way the characters spoke, however, the story was interesting, I even wrongly guessed who the killer was, as usual!

nichola's review against another edition

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4.0

This really is a very obscure and specific genre that I am fond of.

Give me a monk in the 11th or 13th century with a mysterious death and I'm happy for some reason.

I'm looking forward to reading this whole series.

mir_i_am's review against another edition

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2.0

Too boring for me to follow successfully. Also weirdly sexist. I honestly don’t know what happened in this book. And I never felt that I got to know Brother Cadfael at all, other than the fact that he has apparently slept with women before. It seemed very important to the author that I know this fact, for some reason. Aside from that, I don’t know what made Cadfael special or different from the supporting characters. I’m not even sure he actually solved the mystery in this story.

lizdesole's review against another edition

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3.0

The setting of a murder mystery amongst medieval monks is promising. However, the book falls into the trap of having the main character be so modern that the the premise falls a little apart for me. I'm intrigued enough to give it at least a second book though. I did appreciate how the author tied in the politics of the day (especially pertaining to the machinations within the catholic church)

notenoughnewts's review

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4.0

Brother Cadfael’s stories are fantastic. They are very atmospheric and give a great sense of the characters and the setting. The beginning may be a little slower, but the story has a good sense of build up throughout, and I found myself caring very much about not only the identity of the culprit but also the affect on the other characters when they found out. Brother Cadfael is a sympathetic and practical soul, and he is very understanding of the flaws and struggles of his fellow brothers as well as the laypeople around him. The mystery is also solid, and its resolution is very clever and fitting. I’ll definitely be following Brother Cadfael’s adventures further.

fclancy93's review against another edition

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mysterious reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

katjaja's review against another edition

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3.0

I really enjoyed the story. It is the tale of how the benedictine monks of Shrewsbury come by the bones of St Winifred for their reliquiary.

Brother Cadfael, a native Welshman, travels to Gwytherin in Wales with his Prior Robert and a handful of fellow monks seeking to remove St Winifred's bones from her grave and taking them to England. But the people of Gwytherin aren't too pleased about it, and when a murder happens Brother Cadfael begins to investigate.

The village of Gwytherin is a real place in Wales, and does indeed have a St Winifred. The local church is dedicated to her. The monks of Shrewsbury Abbey did travel there in the 12th century to remove her bones to Shrewsbury, so the books is based in part on a real story.

I really enjoy historical novels that elaborate on real events and explore how it could have happened. And this will forever have me wondering about the reliquiary in Shrewsbury.

Audiobook:

The only bit that was a bit annoying was that the reader made all the females sound out-of-breath and overly feminine. When Sioned said "I won't have it, I won't stop until I get my way!" or something of the sort, I would have imagined her stomping a foot and nostrils flaring - instead it sounded like she said "I have to catch my breath, and I'm throwing a sissy fit". But other than that it was a lovely whodunnit, complete with Welsh accents.

pbj_67's review against another edition

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3.0

I have been going through my books and discovered all of thiis old mysteries. I must have picked them up at my granny's house years ago. It has been a pleasant trip down memory lane.

blackoxford's review against another edition

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4.0

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 the ideals of medieval Catholic culture.

Edith Pargeter’s skill in carrying off such apparently contradictory intentions is probably what makes her Cadfael series so popular. What she endorses about Christianity is unstated but understood. It is the character of Cadfael himself, who after a rather full life of adventure - sexual as well as geographical - finds monastic life and its routines to be just what he needs. It is through his eyes that all the deficiencies of the Church are observed and recorded. And yet he implicitly assures the reader that it remains a worthwhile institution.

There is more than a touch of Pre-Raphaelite sentimentality in Pargeter’s prose (captured rather well I think in the cover of my edition). Nevertheless it is impossible for me at my stage in life to disagree with Cadfael’s express motivation for adopting the lowly status of monk: “When you have done everything else, perfecting a conventual herb-garden is a fine and satisfying thing to do.” I understand entirely.

Postscript: I suspect that Pargeter’s St. Winifred is based on the legend of the 12th century St. Frideswide, patron saint of Oxford. The famous Pre-Raphaelite stained glass artist, Edward Burne-Jones, created a large window in Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral in 1858 depicting scenes from her life. The last of these has various of her devotees surrounding her deathbed (see below). In the background Burne-Jones has placed a modern porcelain flush toilet. Pargeter emulates just this sort of tongue in cheek humour in her story.
 photo A24E7C1C-4DB1-43FE-BAC7-E5A9B09D3517_zpsvamuhpxm.jpeg

alfthys's review against another edition

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hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0