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One Corpse Too Many This is the second Brother Cadfael mystery which is set during the summer of 1138 and takes place in Shrewsbury so sees Cadfael at home tending his herbs and potions in the Abbey gardens This is a time of turmoil with war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud Choosing sides causes discord and violence and Shrewsbury Castle is besieged The upheaval brings a young helper Godric to the Abbey who Cadfael willingly takes as a helper before realising the young man is really a young girl in hiding from the castle Her real name is Godith Aldenay and she was betrothed to Hugh Beringar who becomes a central character in the series as it progressesAmongst the tangled romances that the book unravels Cadfael often being a little like 'Papa Poirot' in his desire to aid couples in coming together there is of course also murder When Cadfael is called to the castle to help bury a number of men hung there he finds an extra corpse among the bodies one whose death cannot be explained by the executions ordered by the king It is up to Cadfael to find the young man justice and to try to bring peace to his disturbed world An enjoyable addition to the series even if the romance sometimes threatens to overtake the mystery 25A real disappointment especially since I enjoyed the first Brother Cadfael book so much such an intriguing premise A corpse mixed in with the victims of a massacre awesome ideaThis was a muddled mess and I'm not interested enough to go back to try to figure out where I becameconfused Having view spoiler two romantic couples hide spoiler Book 2 of the Brother Cadfael series which is one I’ve been reading in no particular order The series is set in 12th Century England where a civil war is raging between cousins King Stephen and Empress Maud both claimants to the throne People support one or the other as per their beliefs and opportunity too but when the other party is in the ascendant their very lives are in danger In this one King Stephen has made some advances and reached Shrewsbury where the Castle supports Empress Maud who is still in Normandy Stephen manages to overthrow them and the ninety four men who are captured are put to death The Abbey wishes to give these brave men a suitable burial and Brother Cadfael is put in charge But when he gets there there aren’t ninety four bodies as he was given to expect but ninety five and that one additional man was not hanged as the others but murdered Meanwhile a young potential novice Godric is brought to the Abbey and placed as Cadfael’s assistant who Cadfael soon finds has a secret of his own Cadfael has to both solve the mystery and help Godric before danger catches up with them I enjoy this series largely because of its setting in a period of history I knew next to nothing about and also for Brother Cadfael’s character who is very likeable indeed This book introduces one character who becomes a regular in the series but on our initial introduction we do not really know what to make of that person The character and Brother Cadfael have a battle of wits which was enjoyable to watch unfold Both the female characters we follow are courageous and spunky which and don’t allow their allegiances to overtake their personal judgment All the characters we meet in this book have their backstories problems but while interesting they didn’t seem as complex as characters in some of the later books in the series The mystery again wasn’t terribly complicated in fact fairly straightforward but at the same time the explanation definitely had aspects I didn’t catch on to though the background was set for it right from the start Still as part of the series this was an enjoyable read for me despite the sombre themes—war and death especially seeing how characters who were familiar to me from later books entered the scene Ellis Peters’ “A Morbid Taste For Bones” travelled but the home sticking “One Corpse Too Many” was action packed Whether the constant movement kept Edith Pargeter’s soft adverbs in check or she improved; I was relieved I enjoyed her second novel so much better than I thought and won’t mind reading her third Medieval historical fiction and the crime type of mysteries are my least favourites so this was not going to be a five star novel for me However Edith penned these settings exceptionally well I wonder at the research she didI docked a star for clarity and denouement weakness making my grade three stars again Without a ten star system to reflect shades of preference my review explains why this book was exponentially better Edith created a sparkling note to set her books apart Brother Cadfael on the Welsh border of England is a retired soldier from the famous crusades of the 1300s and a retired sea captain He chose relaxed service in this chapter of his life He is an accomplished herbalist and gardener his monastic role Knowing his backgrounds the brothers call upon him for miscellaneous assistance all the timeA fight between ueen and king siblings erupts in their town and Brother Cadfael discovers a murder There is a very realistic feeling about how peaceably citizens can coexist with diverse perspectives like we do in Canada Some are for the ueen hiding in France but both stances are respected discreetly The daughter of a high ranking man for the ueen hides until she can join her family Helping her vindicating the victim and assessing two men kept the intrigue lively Proof to arrest the murderer was obtained overly conveniently and a dual against him added unnecessary drama But the atmosphere of three strong 1400s women strikes us powerfully today for every untimely death every man cut down in his vigour and strength without time for repentance and reparation is one corpse too manyOne Corpse Too Many is the second of the chronicles of “Cadfael” a Welsh Benedictine monk in 12th century England at Shrewsbury Abbey near the Welsh border Author Edith Pargeter who wrote under the pseudonym of Ellis Peters passed away in 1995 I vaguely remember a TV series of the same name when I was young but never watched now I am enjoying the novels with fresh eyesThe story opens in 1138 with Shrewsbury under siege by King Stephen when King Henry I died without a male heir the throne was to pass to his daughter the Empress Maud Matilda according to history but her cousin took it for his own plunging England into Civil War As some approached Stephen to offer men and horses others loyal to Maud are trying to escape to Wales from where they can secure a passage to France The middle aged Benedictine monk Cadfael who harvests herbs for medicinal remedies and makes wine and potions is approached by a nurse asking him to take charge of a fresh faced youth Cadfael fought in the first crusade and was a ship’s captain off the Holy Land before taking his orders and his suspicions are aroused but he takes the boy inWith the battle in its bloody climax prisoners are bound then hung by the neck off the castle walls and the next day Cadfael is sent to recover the bodies and ready them to be either identified by their loved ones or to be given a Christian burial in a mass grave Among the 94 bodies dispatched by the Flemish mercenaries another body is found the massacre masking a murder and Cadfael draws it to the attention to the king who charges him to investigate and bring the offender to justice By all the signs there would be plenty of killing in Stephen’s realm in the near future and he would not lose his sleep over most of it but to have a killer by stealth creeping for cover into his shadow that he would take as a deadly insult to himself and avenge accordinglyThis was a story with everything romance and loss; deception and derring do as Cadfael tries to outwit the nobleman Hugh Beringar leading to a hand to hand fight to the death in the finale The language is that of Medieval England yet not difficult to read with maps in the preface and a glossary of terms particularly of garments and weaponry And a gentle humour permeates through the hostilities The town was willing to put on a festival face not so much in the king’s honour as in celebration of the fact that the king was about to departThis book has inspired me to read in the series and to check up on that period in English history and the city of Shrewsbury birthplace of Charles Darwin which has retained many of its medieval buildings escaping both the Luftwaffe and 1960’s demotions though Frankwell noted in the book on the far bank of the River Seven suffered severe flooding It's so refreshing to read a mystery series with no gore or bad language that is mixed with a cast of characters I'd like to know in real life They're wise honorable people The central character is a monk but don't let that put you off He becomes a real person with flaws not some pie in the sky paragon of perfection This book gives a black and white movie feeling for which I'm very grateful It's a good comfort read If you're afraid the historical aspect and time period will go right over your head don't be Ellis Peters is gifted so you don't have to be Just relax and enjoy learning about Empress Maud and King Stephen It's ok There's no final exam at the end and even if there was you could probably pass it So no worries The setting really does come alive on the page and you'll feel safe and secure in that world with Brother Cadfael as your guide I've enjoyed meeting every character in this series so far This one shines in all categories plot characters setting and good writing I wouldn't say any of them are taking the lead leaving others behind I feel this series can be compared to the The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series Both have good writing featuring warm wise characters and a setting with which you may be unfamiliar There is humor and you'll learn something along the way You may not know what to expect but you'll be glad you took the time to find out I'm looking forward to the third book in this series I never thought I'd say that about any book written in the medieval time period Thanks to Chrissie and Gundula for the nudges and for convincing me to give these books a try In the summer of 1138 war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud takes Brother Cadfael from the uiet world of his garden into a battlefield of passions deceptions and death Not far from the safety of the abbey walls Shrewsbury Castle falls leaving its ninety four defenders loyal to the empress to hang as traitors With a heavy heart Brother Cadfael agrees to bury the dead only to make a grisly discovery one extra victim that has been strangled not hanged In 'One Corpse Too Many' by Ellis Peters the year is 1138 and it's war King Stephen and Empress Maud fight each other for the right to rule England Back and forth the lords their Knights and men at arms fight for their chosen liege Unfortunately for the town of Shrewsbury the castle is in the hands of supporters of Maud while Stephen's men are surrounding the town and preparing to attack The people wisely lock their doors and windows and stay out of it The Benedictines behind their abbey walls pray for peace and Cadfael prepares his medicines for the injuredSoon it is clear King Stephen and his forces have won the castle Those who were fighters for Maud still alive are sentenced to hang and after the sentence is carried out their bodies are collected by Cadfael for religious burial But first the bodies must be arranged and washed for viewing and word is passed to the countryside for families to come with no penalty to find their loved ones In carrying out his duties to the dead Cadfael counts 95 bodies As horrifying as the results of war are to view this is even worse Only 94 were killed in warfare but one has been murdered There must be Justice He cares nothing for politics; Cadfael can do nothing for those who died in lawful battle but he must find out who caused an unlawful deathThe investigation begins Empress Maud's man FitzAlan before he fled the castle when it became clear the battle to hold it was lost had the foresight to send away his war treasury trusting to two trusted couriers to carry it away under cover of darkness to Empress Maud in Normandy But something went wrong The extra body is one of the couriersview spoiler Nicholas Faintree hide spoiler A very strong follow up This one steps up the historical battle between King Stephen and Empress Maud so it's about lords and knights rather than cloistered monksI enjoyed reading the origins of some of the series' mainstay characters such as Hugh Beringar and his wife to be Cadfael's wit and wisdom is always a pleasure Book two in the Cadfael series is not uite as clever as the first The murderer was easy to pick out However this book is about drama stealth vengeance and justice as played out through some solid action scenes Nothing disappointing about that The trouble with me he thought unhappily is that I have been about the world long enough to know that God's plans for us however infallibly good may not take the form we expect and demandBrother Cadfael that former military man in a monk’s robe knows his onionsand his murder victims and fugitives When a murderer dumps his victim amongst the bodies of those hung for treason Cadfael is not willing to let the perpetrator get away scot free Dragged away from his garden and his herbal potions the good Brother must search for justice but not interfere in politicsI so enjoy the time period and setting of this particular series I also appreciate the non gory nature of the mysteries and the slower pacing suited to the historical period depicted Sure there are pressures to solve the murder but Cadfael has the time and thinking space in his garden to put the facts together and come up with a logical argument He has both his military experience and his monastic learning to draw on a formidable combinationBut it is Cadfael’s common sense and knowledge of human behaviour that makes him a good detective—and his willingness to admit that sometimes his monastic duties will need to be set aside if justice is to be done A good man to have on your side

  • Paperback
  • 214 pages
  • One Corpse Too Many
  • Ellis Peters
  • English
  • 21 February 2016
  • 9780446400510

About the Author: Ellis Peters

Edith PargeterEdith Mary Pargeter OBE BEM was a prolific author of works in many categories especially history and historical fiction and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics; she is probably best known for her murder mysteries both historical and modern Born in the village of Horsehay Shropshire England she had Welsh ancestry and many of her short stories and books both fictional and non fictional were set in Wales and its borderlandsDuring World War II she worked in an administrative role in the Women's Royal Naval Service and received the British Empire Medal BEMPargeter wrote under a number of pseudonyms; it was under the name Ellis Peters that she wrote the highly popular series of Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries many of which were made into films for television