After going to war with Audie Murphy, I pulled out number 10 of Ms Peters’ Cadfael series. I read a number of them in the 80s and now I am reading them in order. I’m glad I started that because each book gives us a little bit more information about Brother Cadfael, Twelfth Century crusader, ten years a ship captain, and lately a herbarium monk of the Abby of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury, England.
The stories are set against the backdrop of the civil war between Empress Maud and King Stephen. Their war lasted for 19 years, so plenty of time for 21 Cadfael books. In this episode, Maud was all but crowned before a sudden change.
But these stories are not about the war. They are murder mysteries with Cadfael serving as the detective aided by his best friend, the former deputy and now Sheriff Hugh Beringar. Despite their 30+ years age difference, they are of like minds and work like hand and glove.
This particular story develops more slowly than usual. Cadfael and Hugh spend several pages hashing over the news of war. More pages pass before a murder is described–a murder in London. The connection with events in Shrewsbury does not become apparent until about three-fourths of the way through the book.
I enjoy reading Peters’ pros but I understand that modern readers will find her too slow. In fairness, this is the first of the ten books I’ve read that I felt she could have had a little more action early on. Still, I like this book.