Ellis Peters Equals Great Reads

This blog is about great reads for a quarter, and I’m sorry I’ve gotten off the track with my trip to Maine. We’re using blogs on our website as a way of recording daily impressions and testing ideas for our stories.

But one way of catching up fast in the great reads department is to recommend the wonderful Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve paid as much as five bucks for one of these books.

They’re on a par with Inspector Maigret, Per Wahloo and Judge Dee.

You’ll find them in huge bunches because people just could not get enough of Brother Cadfael. My brother Shady calls him Brother Cardfile because of his ability to store, sort, and make available the most relevant information.

Brother Cadfael does this quite often, but you will be charmed, too, by the wonderful world that this ex-crusader has helped to create in the medieval Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in his role as gardener and apothecary.

Brother Cadfael is a Welshman by birth and he is often able to weave an unseen web of diplomacy between the English and the Welsh chieftains on their border.

Thankfully, he’s blessed with abbotts who are not complete buttheads, which is the most unrealistic feature I can find about the series. Everything else works really well. Fantastically well.

What I admire most, and what makes this series really work, is a combination of scholarship and artistry. You will find this in all these books from beginning to end.

I guess the most exciting Ellis Peters book for me is one where an old crusader buddy of Cafael’s commits a murder that really needs to be committed. You might say that that’s immoral, but that would be before you heard the story.

So how does Cadfael’s buddy get to and from the scene of the crime without detection? Simple: He’s a leper and he’s ringing a bell that makes everybody scamper. There’s lot of cool stuff like that in this series.

And once you get hooked on one, there’s a lot of enjoyment ahead.