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The Potter's Field (1989)

by Ellis Peters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brother Cadfael (17)

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1,619219,362 (3.85)134
When a woman's skeleton is discovered in a local potter's field, Cadfael must find the culprit before he himself is found lynch by an angry mob.

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English (19)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (21)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The abbey receives land from another abbey & as they prepare the land, a body of a woman shows up. A monk, a novice, & a noble lady are in the center of the mystery. As Cadfael presses to save a young man from being hanged for a crime he didn't commit, he discovers a long buried secret never meant to be told. ( )
  walterhistory | Aug 17, 2022 |
The remains of a woman are uncovered as an unused field is being plowed. Was she the estranged wife of a man who recently took vows to become a monk? The weave is tangled in this one, indeed, and I wasn't sure whodunit until the end, when I discovered how wrong I was. Good twisty mystery. ( )
  fuzzi | May 28, 2021 |
A potter's field is generally thought of as a graveyard for the unknown or the indigent. Not so in this novel - the field is one that had belonged to a potter. When the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury obtained the field, they decided to use it for planting crops. What they discovered were the bones of a young woman. The potter has come to the Abbey as a novitiate and his abandoned wife was believed to have gone off with a lover. So who is this woman? We are introduced to another young monk fleeing from the terrible war between Empress Maud and King Stephen and his mother as well as various other characters. A mystery to savor. ( )
  fdholt | Jun 24, 2019 |
Cleverly done mystery where a field is granted to the abbey of Shrewsbury and as the monks work the field, they discover a dead body. Who is this woman? Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar set out to figure out who this person is and how she died. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Mar 11, 2019 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Potter's Field
Series: Brother Cadfael #17
Author: Ellis Peters
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 248
Format: Digital Edition


Cadfael's Abbey trades a field with another Abbey and in the process of plowing it, turn up the remains of a woman.

A newly minted monk at Shrewsbury took the vows against his wife's wishes and she disappeared, thought to have run off to Wales with a lover. Now the suspicion is on him. Until a novitiate turns up with a story about seeing the woman just a couple of weeks ago, with her ring to prove it. Then another woman is shown to have disappeared and her lover is arrested. The same novitiate proves that the woman is alive and sets the scoundrel free.

It all turns out that the woman was the monk's wife but she died due to the novitiates father and mother. It wasn't murder and there was no foul play. It was complicated enough that even Hugh Beringar says that God will sort out everyone's motives.

My Thoughts:

I found this to be one of the more complicated mysteries, mainly because of the various motivations and lack of malice aforethought. And yet I certainly can't agree with the author's thoughts, presented through Cadfael, Hugh and the Father Abbot, that everything was ok in the end. There was no justice. The mother of the novitiate did cause the death of the wife of the monk, even if hatred wasn't involved.

These last couple of Cadfael books I have found myself disagreeing with the author more and more about how justice gets carried out and just what is the law. If you cause someone else's death, even if they agree to it, that is still killing someone. The price of a life is the life of the one who took it or, if there was no forethought and hatred, banishment for life. Someone who pre-meditates and then carries out a killing is not someone who deserves to live. That is a cancer that must be cut out, not a cold that gets treated with soft tissues and extra fluids.

Mercy misplaced or misapplied is as bad as no mercy at all.

★★★☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Feb 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peters, Ellisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BascoveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chwat, SergeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssens, PieterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maass, Hans-JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Menini, María AntoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michowski, MarekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ooide, KenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelitti, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pošustová-Menš… StanislavaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Saint Peter's Fair of that year, 1143, was one week past, and they were settling down again into the ordinary routine of a dry and favorable August, with the corn harvest already being carted into the barns, when Brother Matthew the cellarer first brought into chapter the matter of business he had been discussing for some days during the fair with the prior of the Augustine priory of Saint John the Evangelist, at Haughmond, about four miles to the northeast of Shrewsbury.
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When a woman's skeleton is discovered in a local potter's field, Cadfael must find the culprit before he himself is found lynch by an angry mob.

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