A Morbid Taste for Bones (Brother Cadfael Series #1)

A Morbid Taste for Bones (Brother Cadfael Series #1)

by Ellis Peters

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In the first installment of an iconic historical mystery series, a medieval monk seeks a saint’s remains for Shrewsbury Abbey—but finds a murderous sinner instead.

A Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in western England, Brother Cadfael spends much of his time tending the herbs and vegetables in the garden—but now there’s a more pressing matter. Cadfael is to serve as translator for a group of monks heading to the town of Gwytherin in Wales. The team’s goal is to collect the holy remains of Saint Winifred, which Prior Robert hopes will boost the abbey’s reputation, as well as his own. But when the monks arrive in Gwytherin, the town is divided over the request.

When the leading opponent to disturbing the grave is found shot dead with a mysterious arrow, some believe Saint Winifred herself delivered the deadly blow. Brother Cadfael knows an earthly hand did the deed, but his plan to root out a murderer may dig up more than he can handle.

Before CSI and Law & Order , there was Brother Cadfael, “wily veteran of the Crusades” ( Los Angeles Times ). His knowledge of herbalism, picked up in the Holy Land, and his skillful observance of human nature are blessings in dire situations, and earned Ellis Peters a Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award. A Morbid Taste for Bones kicks off a long-running and much-loved series that went on to be adapted for stage, radio, and television.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446400152
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 01/28/1994
Series: Brother Cadfael Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile: 1160L (what's this?)

About the Author

Ellis Peters is a pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter (1913–1995), a British author whose Chronicles of Brother Cadfael are credited with popularizing the historical mystery. Cadfael, a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in the first half of the twelfth century, has been described as combining the curious mind of a scientist with the bravery of a knight-errant. The character has been adapted for television, and the books drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history.
Pargeter won an Edgar Award in 1963 for  Death and the Joyful Woman , and in 1993 she won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, an annual award given by the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain. She was appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1994, and in 1999 the British Crime Writers’ Association established the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award, later called the Ellis Peters Historical Award.

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Morbid Taste for Bones 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Kimi_and_Stevies_Mom More than 1 year ago
This first book involves Brother Cadfael's Abbey wanting to obtain the relics of a saint so that they can achieve greater fame, thus inducing more pilgrims to come, thus giving the Abbey more revenue. Not that Cadfael cares, but there are others in the Abbey who would like to achieve this outcome. And soon enough there is a murder that Cadfael must solve. I recommend all readers try and read these books in order as the characters become more developed as the series progresses. These are fun and easy reads and I am sure you will get hooked as I did.
Bill-D More than 1 year ago
A fascinating look into the past. Great characters living their lives in moments of stress. The descriptions ring real and the characters could be you. Extremely well written, it is not for those too lazy or unable to understand writing above today's writers. The language is beautiful. I loved this series. The PBS movies based on it are also good but not quite as rich as the books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been interested in the Brother Cadfael series since I saw one of the stories turned into a TV show. The premise seemed interesting, and the character seemed interesting, too. Being who I am, I didn't act on this interest for a long time, as other interests took priority. A few months ago, however, I picked up another medieval murder mystery novel and enjoyed it, so I figured it was time to dive into this series, starting with the initial book. The story is fairly short, coming in at under 200 pages. That seems a little stingy for a $7 book, especially when you can get books three times the size for the same price. But it is a good 200 pages that you get, so it would be wrong to make too much of an issue over the page count. The basic story involves Brother Cadfael's Abbey's quest to obtain the relics of a saint so that they can achieve greater fame in the world. Not that Cadfael care, of course, but there are others in the Abbey who would achieve considerable fame in the course of such a venture. Sure enough, a target is soon found, and a contingent of monks head off to get the bones of a saint from Wales and bring them back to England. The locals aren't too fond of the idea, of course, and soon enough there has been a murder that Cadfael must solve. I must say that the author does a great job of pacing things out. There is plenty of time for all of the main actors to get introduced, and then things move along in due course. There is also a nice plot twist at the end. It was hinted at, so it didn't catch me off guard, but it was a nice twist to the story. Overall, an enjoyable read, if not the greatest thing ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all 21 Brother Cadfeal mysteries. Some of them more than once. Superb! Settings, beliefs, etc. true to period. Stories and characters plausible, suspenseful, engaging, funny, touching, very entertaining. Hard to find a story you can get so lost in that you lose track of time and so entertaining that you don't care. Ellis Peters has done this with all 21 Brother Cadfeal stories. REALLY wish there'd been more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While being a great mystery series, it has sparked my interest in Welsh history. So glad that I found brother Cadfael.
Teddyra More than 1 year ago
As usual Ellis Peters makes it interesting from beginning to end. Had read all the Cadfael books except this one. Enjoyed them all!
themerrywindchime More than 1 year ago
I have read the first three of the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters now. I like the Medieval period in which the stories take place. The author is very clever at setting her narrative hook. I will continue reading these books and recommend them to others.
justchris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters is the first of a long series of Brother Cadfael mysteries. I have watched many televised episodes, in no particular order, and enjoyed them a great deal. Of course, I am generally a fan of BBC and most of my limited viewing time is devoted to British productions.In this story, the ambitious members of Brother Cadfael's monastery decide to appropriate an obscure Welsh saint for the benefits that miracles and pilgrims can bring. Brother Cadfael, with his Welsh background and language skills joins the expedition over the border to translate the saint's bones. Not surprisingly, the local villagers are not pleased with the idea, and the most outspoken opponent turns up dead. In this story, Brother Cadfael relies on basic forensics observations rather than his extensive herbal and botanical knowledge to investigate the murder, though the book clearly lays out his personality and background.It was a charming story that brought the era to life and highlighted the differences between Wales and England. It also gives insights into monastic life, which must seem quite alien to most modern readers. The characters were sympathetically drawn though without much depth. The dialogue was good, the narrative was in reasonable proportion, and the plot was moderately interesting if generally predictable. And of course, the poetic justice was lovely.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good writing, good characters, decent mystery. Kinda slow, it could have ended at about 17 places in the last 2 chapters but it just kept going.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first Cadfael story, and I have a sneaking suspicion I saw the tv version first. Cadfael is sent with some other monks to recover the body of a saint to enhance the Benedectine Monastery of Shrewsbury. The people where the saint is don't really want to release her and when one of the villagers is found dead suspicion is thrown on the monks, Cadfael has to investigate.The Carlton Video starring Derek Jacobi follows the book quite well.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At last I've started the Brother Cadfael mysteries, after several friends recommended the books for quite some time. I enjoyed this story and I'll certainly be looking for the rest of the series. Brother Cadfael is an old Welsh adventurer, who has joined the Benedictine order as a retirement rather than for religious reasons. He is quite worldy-wise and astute about the motivations of others, and he observes his spiritual brothers with interest. I found him a little too cynically modern in his thinking, a little too easy to relate to ¿ but I suppose it would be difficult for modern readers to really identify with a zealously strict monk. In this first story, Brother Cadfael joins a party from his monastery that is going in search of a saint's relics to boost its monastery's importance among the religious orders. Everyone around this time was relic-crazy, with bones and body parts of saints performing great miracles (or so everyone said) for the faithful. Prior Robert, who is leading their group, has set his sights on Saint Winifred, a centuries-old saint of a small village in Wales. The people of the village don't want the monks to take her away, and one man in particular, Rhisiart, leads the movement against the monk's mission. When he is found murdered with an arrow through his chest, the resistance collapses. Prior Robert claims that it's saintly vengeance for Rhisiart's opposition to the monks. But Brother Cadfael knows better ¿ who really killed Rhisiart?Brother Cadfael begins his own investigations, aided by the dead man's daughter Sioned. The story has a good dash of humor, especially with the earthy, young Brother John, and there is also a bit of the supernatural. Of course a lot of it is just the ready ambition and competition of the monks, but not everything is so neatly explained. I like that... so much in religious experience is overblown and unreal, but not all of it. And there are some good insights about religion and psychology. My favorite line: "It's a kind of arrogance to be so certain you're past redemption."Peters gives plenty of hints about Brother Cadfael's varied past, and it will be interesting to see how these things pop up in later stories. Though the mystery is nothing earth-shattering, it's fairly well-written, and the characters are interesting. Enjoyable and light.
ukforever on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this first chronicle of Brother Cadfael, the medieval monk and amateur sleuth, Peters takes us along as the Benedictine brothers travel to a small Welsh village in order to claim the relics of a neglected saint as their own. But when the community's most outspoken opponent of the relocation is murdered, Cadfael sets out to discover the killer and ends up becoming involved in the miracles attendant upon the saint. A wonderful, short mystery that has become a classic in the genre. The television adaptation starring Derek Jacobi is also highly recommended.
seoulful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this First Chronicle of Brother Cadfael of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Shrewsbury we journey with Brother Cadfael and a retinue from the abbey to Gwytherin, Wales to recover the bones of St. Winifred from her resting place in a small cemetery in Gwytherin and transport her to grace the grand altar at Shrewsbury. We witness the clash of two cultures as the patrician Norman, Prior Robert of Shrewsbury, who thinks in terms of heirarchies and Rhisiart, the landholder of Gwytherin who thinks in terms of blood ties battle over the right to St. Winifred's bones. Prior Robert, who comes with the blessing and authority of church and state and with an overbearing arrogance has little to say to a culture which looks upon itself as kinship members, with different places but not inferior one to the other. Brother Cadfael, a native of Wales, is in the thick of the arguments and resulting murders with his empathetic outlook and his knowledge of the language and culture. A surprise ending which will be alluded to and cause unease to Cadfael in succeeding books of this very engaging series of medieval mystery by a master storyteller.
elwyne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it! A good mystery, with some nice twists and turns. Good, interesting, likable - and unlikable - characters. Cadfael himself is interesting and enjoyable enough that I look forward to reading many more of his adventures. Great sense of humor in him. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good "popcorn" mystery - not much substance but tons of fun. :)
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brother Cadfael, the sleuth in this book, is a monk in the Benedictine Order in the 12th Century during the struggle for the throne between King Stephen and Empress Maud and the history of the time is skillfully woven into the tales. I recommend not just this book but the entire series--they're favorites of mine. Good comfort reads for when you want to immerse yourself in another world with a characters you think of as friends, and there's usually an element of romance. I've seen Cadfael compared to Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet in his attempts to aid lovers, only he's wiser, smarter and more successful. I think each novel could be read on its own, and isn't dependent on the earlier ones, but I think you do enjoy it more when you read it from the beginning, because there is also an underlying arc to the series, such as the friendship between Cadfael and the sheriff Hugh Beringar (Who first appears in One Corpse Too Many. I liked the ending in particular in this--justice done with a light touch. A good read and a strong opening for the series.
marsap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Morbid Taste for Bones is the first Brother Cadfael mystery. When a fellow monk by the name of Brother Columbanus falls ill, he¿s taken in a pilgrimage to St Winifred¿s Well in North Wales and returns cured. The cure is attributed to St Winifred. Prior Robert, Cadfael (needed to translate) and a small party travel to the village of Gwytherin in Wales to claim the saint¿s relics; against the will of the local community. Tempers rise, and murder is the result. It¿s up to Brother Cadfael and to Sioned, a local young woman, to find out what really happened. This book is a fun read--things move along quickly. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A favorite, this gives a lot of explanation of Cadfael's faith and truth vs. religiosity.
maryanntherese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An entertaining mystery with a good plot and characters. I would like it better if Cadfael was actually a faithful Catholic instead of a moral relativist.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first in the Brother Cadfael series.We're in 12th century England near the Welsh border at Shrewbury, the site of the Benedictine Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul. Brother Cadfael at 57 has had his share of worldly adventures as part of the First Crusade fighting in the Holy land; he has also had his share of experiences with women, which he remembers with affection. For the past 15 years, he has been a contented member of the Benedictine community, his major responsibility being the abbey garden, especially the medicinal herbs.No organization is immune from politics and its ambitious practitioners, least of all the Catholic Church. The prior of Shrewsbury Abbey, Prior Robert, is a descendant of the Norman conquerors, and while he may have given up lordship over a secular domain, he definitely aspires to rise to the top within the Church. Thus he chafes under the galling lack of a saint's relics at the abbey, diminishing the abbey's (and therefore his) reputation. Prior Robert launches a campaign to transfer the bones of St. Winifred, a little-known virgin Welsh saint from their resting place in Wales to Sts. Peter and Paul.The Welsh community is NOT amused, and the opposition is led by a prominent Welsh landowner who is soon found murdered.The plot is excellent, given the era in which the story is set. Peters draws the characters--all of them, including the haughty Prior Robert--with great affection. She has a wonderful ability to put us right in the time and the location.The climax of the story is very well done and Brother Cadfael's solution to the resulting problem a stroke of genius; the humor and irony are exquisite.It may be a murder mystery, but Peters writes with great gentleness, humor, and fondness for the period. Brother Cadfael is one of the most endearing "detectives" of the genre.Highly recommended.
maita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A man is stuck down by an arrow and people take it as a sign that a saint is angry. Brother Cadfael knows this to be the work of a mortal, a work of hate rather than heavenly vengeance. I love the book. There is a bit of humor in Cadfael. Medeival life has more to it than blunt killings and crude farm works. The human mind is as complex in murdering as the present day criminals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent series from the first book to the last. Brother Cadfael is a wonderful character with real people and real places. I wish there were more.
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