Friday, March 27, 2009

Brother Cadfael, the sleuth who can save a soul

I finished Monk's Hood, the third in the Brother Cadfael series of murder mysteries a few nights ago. It's a suspenseful ending, and I was reading quickly for story, and knowing I'd want to go back and read the ending again at a more leisurely pace.

On the second reading, the book brought tears to my eyes. Imagine such a thing from a mystery novel. I haven't read the work of that many mystery writers, but I certainly never started crying during an Agatha Christie or a Raymond Chandler or even a Dorothy Sayers.

The series' sleuth, Brother Cadfael, helps someone find a path toward grace. I don't want to say more than that for fear of spoiling the ending. But I'm really impressed and highly recommend the book. The first in the series (A Morbid Taste for Bones) was enjoyable but the most annoying characters were prominent. The second (One Corpse Too Many) introduced a lovable new character but the mystery wasn't that interesting.

Many of the books in the series, perhaps all, have been made into films starring Sir Derek Jacobi as Cadfael, and they're pretty good, but they by necessity leave out many of the subplots and character turns that give the stories depth.

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