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A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977)

by Ellis Peters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brother Cadfael (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,569872,887 (3.79)258
In 1137 the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the remains of Saint Winifred for his Benedictine order. Brother Cadfael is part of the expedition sent to her final resting place in Wales and they find the villagers passionately divided by the Benedictines' offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise and all too worldly, Cadfael isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to a bloody murder. The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself dealt the blow. Brother Cadfael knows that a carnal hand did the killing, but he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice, where the wages of sin may be a scandal- or his own ruin.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, JoeB1934, DMK417, anotherjennifer, rschmitt, Sylri, jjwilson61, MWise
Legacy LibrariesEdward St. John Gorey
  1. 20
    The Novice's Tale by Margaret Frazer (avalon_today)
  2. 20
    The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb (avalon_today)
    avalon_today: there is a lot going on in those Abbey's
  3. 00
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (ahef1963)
    ahef1963: More monks, more deaths.
  4. 00
    The Rule of St. Benedict by Saint Benedict (ahef1963)
    ahef1963: The original guiding principles behind Benedictine life.
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» See also 258 mentions

English (79)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (87)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Brother Cadfael Mysteries by Ellis Peters (4 stars)
A Morbid Taste for Bones (#1) / The Virgin in the Ice (#6)
These books are part of a 21-book series about a 12th century Monk named Brother Cadfael, who has a talent for solving murder mysteries. There is also a PBS series about Brother Cadfael starring Derrik Jacobi as the monk. I have seen a few of these shows so I decided to give the books a try as I was sampling different types of mystery stories. Cadfael is an interesting character, having been a crusading soldier in his younger days he is, you might say, a bit unconventional as a monk. He has a long colorful history behind him and there is a lot of pretty accurate historical fact thrown in with the novels as well keeping them entertaining and figuring out the ‘who done it’ portion with Brother Cadfael.
Morbid Taste for Bones: The monastery where Cadfael lives is looking to gain more notoriety by beefing up their collection of relics from Saints, so one of the brothers has a miraculous vision showing him where to find some relics to take back to his monastery, it just so happens the relics are in Wales and the people of the town are not so convinced they need to give them up to these English Monks….
The Virgin in the Ice: The story begins with the historical sacking of Worcester in 1139, historical information is revealed, including a good inside look at English society in the middle ages and Cadfael sets out to look for a pair of royal youths who have been missing since the battle and solving murders along the way. ( )
  kaida46 | May 27, 2022 |
An entertaining mystery, packed with historical detail. It's perhaps a little bit slight, hence the 3 stars rather than 4, and the characters are a little indistinct at times, but still an enjoyable read. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
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 (eg. [b:Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch|12067|Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch|Terry Pratchett|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1615552073l/12067._SY75_.jpg|4110990]). 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:
( )
  mintlovesbooks | Feb 24, 2022 |
re-read ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
I enjoy Cadfael mysteries. Slower paced, not crazily exciting, but enjoyable, interesting, and fun. This one is a good introduction to the series. ( )
  jercox | Jun 2, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellis Petersprimary authorall editionscalculated
健, 大出翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
エリス・ピー…secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, JanOvers.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Escott, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gehlin, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilles, NicolasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Houston, GlynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobi, Sir DerekSprechersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssens, PieterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karve, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Menini, María AntoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Dianesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelitti, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staercke-Lobry, MarijeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, JohannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the fine, bright morning in early May when the whole sensational affair of the Gwytherin relics may properly be considered to have begun, Brother Cadfael had been up long before Prime, pricking out cabbage seedlings before the day was aired, and his thoughts were all on birth, growth and fertility, not at all on graves and reliquaries and violent deaths, whether of saints, sinners or ordinary decent, fallible men like himself.
Quotations
"God resolves all given time," said Cai philosophically and trudged away into the darkness. And Cadfael returned along the path with the uncomfortable feeling that God, nevertheless, required a little help from men, and what he mostly got was hindrance.
Great darkness and constant, feeble light, the slow flowing of time from far beyond his conception to far beyond his power to follow, the solitude about him and the troubled and peopled world within, all these settled into their perpetual pattern, a steady rhythm as perfect as sleep.
"Both men and women partake of the same human nature, Huw. We both bleed when we're wounded. That's a poor, silly woman, true, but we can show plenty of poor, silly men. There are women as strong as any of us, and as able."
He made a mistake, and there should be provision for everybody to make one fresh start.
Meet every man as you find him, for we're all made the same under habit or robe or rags.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

In 1137 the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the remains of Saint Winifred for his Benedictine order. Brother Cadfael is part of the expedition sent to her final resting place in Wales and they find the villagers passionately divided by the Benedictines' offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise and all too worldly, Cadfael isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to a bloody murder. The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself dealt the blow. Brother Cadfael knows that a carnal hand did the killing, but he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice, where the wages of sin may be a scandal- or his own ruin.

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(from the back of the book) In the remote Welsh mountain village of Gwytherin lies the grave of Saint Winifred. Now, in 1137, the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey had decided to acquire the sacred remains for his Benedictine order. Native Welshman Brother Cadfael is sent on the expedition to translate and finds the rustic villagers of Gwytherin passionately divided by the Benedictine's offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise, and all too worldly, he isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to bloody murder.
The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself held the bow. Brother Cadfael knows a carnal hand did the killing. But he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice... where the wages of sin may be scandal or Cadfael's own ruin.
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