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The Leper of Saint Giles (1981)

by Ellis Peters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brother Cadfael Mysteries (5)

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1,946478,350 (3.91)91
Setting out for the Saint Giles leper colony outside Shrewsbury, Brother Cadfael has more pressing matters on his mind than the grand wedding coming to his abbey. Yet as fate would have it, Cadfael arrives at Saint Giles just as the nuptial party passes the colony's gates. He sees the fragile bride, looking like a prisoner between her two stern guardians, and the bridegroom, an arrogant, fleshy aristocrat old enough to be her grandfather. And he quickly discerns that this union may be more damned than blessed. Indeed, a savage murder will interrupt the May-December marriage, and leave Brother Cadfael with a dark, terrible mystery to solve. The key to the killing--and a secret--is hidden among the lepers of Saint Giles. Now, Brother Cadfael's skills must ferret out a sickness not of the body, but of a twisted soul.… (more)
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» See also 91 mentions

English (38)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Once again I have reread a Brother Cadfael novel where I rated it but apparently didn't write a review.

The blurb is slightly misleading, but not so much I'll write anything about because there is more than one mystery here, although the main one is the brutal murder of a despicable man. This is well done mystery novel that kept my interest throughout. Since it's been 8 years to the month since I read it the first time, I had forgotten almost everything so it was fresh again.

Rereading some of these is helping me attempt to have a 3.5 rating average this year since overall it's only 3.22 which means I've been too busy reading things for challenges even if I don't like them much. ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 16, 2024 |
Excellent a great read! ( )
  SafetySam | Dec 17, 2023 |
Summary: A wedding arranged between two landed families between a powerful old baron and an orphaned girl in charge of her avaricious uncle and aunt fails to happen when the groom doesn’t show because he lies murdered along a trail.

The abbey in Shrewsbury is to be the site of a wedding representing two landed households. Baron Huon de Domville is a cruel, overweight man of sixty, as evident in his treatment of the poor and the lepers watching the procession. His bride, just turned eighteen, is Iveta de Massard, orphaned as a child and raised by an aunt and uncle, the Picards, who stand to gain from the lands her father held as part of the marriage bargain. Needless to say, they are protective of their “investment.”

They have reason. The beautiful girl has inspired the love of one of Domville’s squires, Joscelin Lucy, the son of another landowner. The couple arranges a tryst in Cadfael’s workshop. He stumbles upon them, to be followed shortly by the aunt, Agnes. He tries to cover for them but Agnes knows. She tells Domville who sends Joscelin packing. Before he departs, Domville discovers a necklace missing that he was going to give Iveta. It is found in Joscelin’s bundle. Though he claims innocence, he is arrested by the sheriff, but escapes. He eludes a manhunt, sheltered first by another squire, Simon, and then after near capture, in the leper colony of Saint Giles, helped by a mysterious leper, Lazarus, and a boy, who provides him with the leper’s garb.

Meanwhile, the wedding goes forward. In an interview with Abbot Radulfus, Iveta asserts that she is freely entering this bond, although Cadfael and Radulfus have their doubts. The bride is at the altar, but no groom. They learn that the previous evening, Domville had ridden out of the Abbey with Simon for a ways sending him back so he can go on for a ride down a forest path. A search party including Cadfael finds him sprawled out–dead. Someone had strung a cord across the path, and then when he was stunned and unhorsed, strangled him.

Given that Joscelin was openly at enmity with the Baron, and still at large, he becomes prime suspect and object of an intensified search. And Brother Mark, now at Saint Giles, has his suspicions of the latest addition to the colony. Cadfael, trusted by the Abbot to search for the true killer is in a race against time. Will he find the true killer or at least absolve Joscelin before he is found out? The question is, where did Domville spend his last night? The one clue is rare flowers in Domville’s hat. Find the flowers, find where he stayed and see where that leads. The other clue is that the killer was wearing a ring with a large stone, that in the act of strangling left its mark on Domville’s neck. And the killer apparently knew where Domville would be.

Peters continues to develop the character of Radulfus, who can use his authority in a commanding, yet never rigid or closed fashion. A new character replaces the capable Brother Mark in Cadfael’s workshop, the bumbling but good-natured brother Oswin, clearly a trial to Cadfael’s holiness! The bond and wise counsel between the leper Lazarus and Joscelin, and their care for the near-orphan Bran is beautiful to behold and we wonder if it is to be disappointed. Finally, we see the plight of women in Iveta–rich in inheritance but powerless to control it, a pawn of others. And yet we see her act with resourcefulness within these constraints. But will it be enough to reunite her with Joscelin and will they be able to prove his innocence? ( )
  BobonBooks | Nov 13, 2023 |
In Bk 5, A marriage of convenience is all that matters between the bride's relatives & the bridegroom. An interested party, however, hopes to disrupt the marriage ceremony. When the bridegroom ends up dead on the day of the marriage service, the interested party hides out in a leper colony where he meets a leper who has more than a passing interest in the bride. As brother Cadfael probes deeper, he discovers a web of deceit & then another murder beyond the walls of the leper colony serves to expose the murderer. ( )
  walterhistory | Jul 6, 2022 |
One of the few I missed first time around. Good as they always are. ( )
  Malaraa | Apr 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peters, Ellisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssens, PieterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Menini, María AntoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelitti, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, JohannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Brother Cadfael set out from the gatehouse, that Monday afternoon of October, in the year of 1139, darkly convinced that something ominous would have happened before he re-entered the great court, though he had no reason to suppose that he would be absent more than an hour or so.
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This is the main work for the The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters. Please do not combine with any adaptation (e.g. the BBC TV adaptation starring Derek Jacobi), abridgement (e.g. the abridged audio recording read by Derek Jacobi), etc.
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Setting out for the Saint Giles leper colony outside Shrewsbury, Brother Cadfael has more pressing matters on his mind than the grand wedding coming to his abbey. Yet as fate would have it, Cadfael arrives at Saint Giles just as the nuptial party passes the colony's gates. He sees the fragile bride, looking like a prisoner between her two stern guardians, and the bridegroom, an arrogant, fleshy aristocrat old enough to be her grandfather. And he quickly discerns that this union may be more damned than blessed. Indeed, a savage murder will interrupt the May-December marriage, and leave Brother Cadfael with a dark, terrible mystery to solve. The key to the killing--and a secret--is hidden among the lepers of Saint Giles. Now, Brother Cadfael's skills must ferret out a sickness not of the body, but of a twisted soul.

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