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Saint Peter's Fair (1981)

by Ellis Peters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brother Cadfael Mysteries (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,051487,883 (3.82)101
Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML:In the twelfth century, merchants gather at a summertime fair??but when one of them is found dead in a river, a crime-solving monk must step in.
St. Peter's Fair is a grand, festive event, attracting merchants from across England and beyond. There is a pause in the civil war racking the country in the summer of 1139, and the fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to the town of Shrewsbury??until the body of a wealthy merchant is found murdered in the river Severn. Was Thomas of Bristol the victim of murderous thieves? And, if so, why were his valuables abandoned nearby?

Brother Cadfael, that shrewd but kindly monk, offers to help the merchant's lovely niece Emma. But while he is searching for the killer, Thomas of Bristol's wares are ransacked and two more men are murdered. Emma almost certainly knows more than she is telling??as others will soon realize. Cadfael desperately races to save the young girl, knowing that in a country at war with itself, betrayal can come from any direction, and even good intentions
… (more)
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    Plague Land by S D Sykes (charlie68)
    charlie68: Same time period
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» See also 101 mentions

English (42)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I read many of these many years ago and am reading them again. In a time of political turmoil a well-off merchant is murdered at the Fair. There's a lot of plot!
  franoscar | Mar 12, 2024 |
The little blurb tells you nothing at all, which isn't bad, but even I who hate spoilers, don't think it's a spoiler to tell you this. Prior to the fair, a delegation of local merchants, who are forbidden by an old charter to sell wares during the time of this annual fair so that the Abbey can earn some money from vendors, and request ten percent of what the Abbey makes on top of the amount they usually get to help repair the city walls which were damaged during the war the prior year. When they are told they cannot break the charter, the son of the speaker later asks the incoming merchants to help. A fracas ensues, and the next day one of the merchants is found dead by murder.

Once again Ellis has a strong young woman "guest" character, and this one is one of my favourites.

This is my second time reading this, but my review didn't make it from Shelfari here or to LibraryThing so whatever I wrote is a mystery or perhaps somewhere on my old PC. ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 12, 2024 |
This is a perfectly fine historical murder mystery, which I found both easy to put down (and forget about), and easy to pick up (and remember what was going on). I do like that our 'detective', Brother Cadfael isn't the only one doing the investigations, nor the only one working things out -- it is very much an ensemble in this one. ( )
  fred_mouse | Dec 27, 2023 |
Summary: The murder of a merchant from Bristol during Saint Peter’s Fair is the first of a string of break-ins culminating in another murder; even while two young men vie for the attentions of the merchant’s bereaved niece.

It is the year after Shrewsbury was beseiged and the town is still recovering from the grievous effects of their loss and submission to King Stephen. For the abbey, it is time to play host to Saint Peter’s Fair, a time when merchants come from around both England and nearby Wales to sell their wares to feasting and games and other forms of celebration. It would seem a time to forget the troubles of the past but not for the town fathers, who see the revenues going to the abbey by grant of the king that could have helped rebuild the town. They confront the new abbot, Radulfus, who hears them out but will not deviate from the provisions of their grant, much to the townsmen’s dismay.

In this first encounter, Radulfus appears rigid and caring more about law than good relations. But don’t write him off too soon. He’s careful, shrewd, and as we will see, caring.

The scene shifts to the fair. Cadfael is helping interpret for a Welshmen when a conflict breaks out. Younger men of the town approach one of the richest of vendors, Thomas of Bristol, to see if he and the other vendors will give what the abbot refuses. The young men are led by Philip Corviser, son of the man who led the delegation to the abbey. Thomas brusquely refuses them, Philip grasps his sleave to attempt to reason once more. Thomas reacts by striking him a heavy blow with a staff, sending Thomas reeling and resulting in a riot, with Cadfael judiciously intervening to get Thomas and his attractive niece, Emma, away from the melee.

That night, Emma comes to Cadfael. Thomas has not returned to their barge after setting up his stall at the fair. A search turns up Thomas’s body stripped naked in the Severn with his belongings nearby. He doesn’t appear to have been robbed but he’s been strangled. Philip, who has been drinking to deaden the pain from the blow he suffered has been speaking murderous threats, but is drunk. The authorities find him sleeping it off in a forest glade and arrest him.

But strange things keep going on. Someone searches Thomas’s barge, breaks into his stall and ties up the guard, and even searches inside Thomas’s casket. Then, another merchant is found dead in his stall, and his belongings also strewn about. Whoever it was suffered a torn cotte and a knife wound to the arm before succeeding at murder. It appears something is being searched for, and that Philip, who has been in jail, has no part of this. He joins Cadfael and Hugh Beringar in the search for the real murder or murderers, and locates the site where Thomas was murdered and dragged to the river, not far from where he had fallen asleep in a drunken stupor the night of the murder.

Cadfael has been charged by the abbot to aid the investigation. He secures Emma with Aline Beringar, Hugh’s wife. This doesn’t protect her from the attentions of young men, especially the wealthy estate holder, Ivo Corbiere, but also the humbler Philip, who doubts his chances. And Emma has not told Cadfael or Hugh all–namely the letter she carries that will endanger her life.

All this results in a page-turning climax as Hugh and Cadfael, assisted by Philip, and word from Brother Mark of a man he treated with a knife cut up his arm, piece together the clues as to the identity of the murderer and realize that Emma is in great jeopardy. One of the strong aspects of the story is the developing relationship of Cadfael and Hugh, two men with different callings and yet common values, who value each other’s company. Under the influence of Cadfael and Hugh, we see Philip grow up from the impulsive hothead at the beginning of the story to a chastened and rapidly maturing young man. But will these principled men be able to save Emma from a clearly ruthless murderer who will do anything to obtain the document Emma carries? ( )
  BobonBooks | Oct 2, 2023 |
“Child, [death] is with us always,” said Cadfael, patient beside him. “Last summer ninety-five men died here in the town, none of whom had done murder. For choosing the wrong side, they died. It falls upon blameless women in war, even in peace at the hands of evil men. It falls upon children who never did harm to any, upon old men, who in their lives have done good to many, and yet are brutally and senselessly slain. Never let it shake your faith that there is a balance hereafter. What you see is only a broken piece from a perfect whole.”

“Such justice as we see is also but a broken shred. But it is our duty to preserve what we may, and fit together such fragments as we find, and take the rest on trust.”
― Ellis Peters, St. Peter's Fair
  taurus27 | Aug 1, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peters, Ellisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brumm, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chwat, SergeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gehlin, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grønborg, SusanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holst, KnudTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssens, PieterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karve, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Menini, María AntoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ooide, KenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelitti, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pošustová-Menš… StanislavaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saluri, ReinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Song, Ŭn-gyŏngTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staercke-Lobry, MarijeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volkovskogo, Vitalii︠a︡Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wargan, KrzysztofTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It began at the normal daily chapter in the Benedictine monastery of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, of Shrewsbury, on the thirtieth day of July, in the year of Our Lord 1139.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML:In the twelfth century, merchants gather at a summertime fair??but when one of them is found dead in a river, a crime-solving monk must step in.
St. Peter's Fair is a grand, festive event, attracting merchants from across England and beyond. There is a pause in the civil war racking the country in the summer of 1139, and the fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to the town of Shrewsbury??until the body of a wealthy merchant is found murdered in the river Severn. Was Thomas of Bristol the victim of murderous thieves? And, if so, why were his valuables abandoned nearby?

Brother Cadfael, that shrewd but kindly monk, offers to help the merchant's lovely niece Emma. But while he is searching for the killer, Thomas of Bristol's wares are ransacked and two more men are murdered. Emma almost certainly knows more than she is telling??as others will soon realize. Cadfael desperately races to save the young girl, knowing that in a country at war with itself, betrayal can come from any direction, and even good intentions

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