In the year of our Lord 1141, two monks ride into the Benedictine abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, bringing with them disturbing news of war--and a mystery. The strangers tell how the strife between the Empress Maud and King Stephen has destroyed the town of Winchester and their priory. Now Brother Humilis, who is handsome, gaunt, and very ill, and Brother Fidelis, youthful, comely, and totally mute, must seek refuge at Shrewsbury. And from the moment he meets them, Brother Cadfael senses something deeper than their common vows binds these two good brothers. What the link is he can only guess--what it will lead to is beyond his imagining. But as Brother Humilis' health fails, Brother Cadfael faces a poignant test of his discretion and his beliefs as he unravels a secret so great it can destroy a life, a future, and a holy order. This delightful blend of suspense and historical fiction is, indeed, an excellent mystery.
Ellis Peters is a pseudonym of Edith Mary Pargeter (1913-1995), a British author whose Chronicles of Brother Cadfael are credited with popularizing the historical mystery. Cadfael, a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey in the first half of the twelfth century, has been described as combining the curious mind of a scientist with the bravery of a knight-errant. The character has been adapted for television, and the books drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history.
Pargeter won an Edgar Award in 1963 for Death and the Joyful Woman, and in 1993 she won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, an annual award given by the Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain. She was appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1994, and in 1999 the British Crime Writers' Association established the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award, later called the Ellis Peters Historical Award.
Roe Kendall (a.k.a. Vanessa Benjamin), a native of the British Isles, graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. She has performed on stage, as a voice-over artist, and as an audiobook narrator.