27 March 2010

Top mysteries challenge review: The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters

Year of publication: 1981
Series and no.: Brother Cadfael #5
Genre: Historical mystery
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Monk
Setting & time: Shrewsbury, England; 1139

A wedding is to take place at the Shrewsbury abbey church, between an ageing knight and a young woman, the heiress to a great fortune who is being forced into the union by her greedy guardian. She loves one of her groom’s squires, and he her, but she is well guarded and escape is impossible. It becomes even more so after her young swain is accused of theft and barely escapes the clutches of the sheriff. When the groom is brutally murdered, suspicion naturally falls on the young man, but Brother Cadfael has reason to believe him innocent and sets out to investigate the matter thoroughly. Meanwhile, the fugitive plans to spring his ladylove from her guardians.

This is one of the best of the 5 Cadfael books I have read so far, but not THE best. This opinion probably comes from my having suspected, with growing certainty, who the killer was right from the murder onward. I expect the book made it onto the CWA list of best mysteries more for its message of tolerance and sympathy and the writing style than for the excellence of the mystery.

Rating: A nicely constructed and well written mystery. 4 stars.

Books left in challenge: 84

Place on the list(s): CWA 43
Awards and nominations: None I could find

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