23/10/2002

The Sanctuary Sparrow (by Ellis Peters)

I've seen books by Ellis Peters (pen name for Edith Pargeter) on many shelves for some years, but somehow have never been tempted to read them before now. I quite like the light crime genre, and the twist of having a mediaeval monk as the crime-solver sounded intriguing... but still, I never quite found myself taking the plunge.

We even started collecting a few of Ellis Peters' books ourselves, as one of my teenage sons likes them. He persuaded me to try one and to read it aloud to him and his brother, as I couldn't think of anything else. So I agreed.

'The Sanctuary Sparrow' is actually the seventh in the Brother Cadfael series, but they all stand alone so it didn't matter that I hadn't read any of the others.

The book opens as Liliwin, a juggler, claims sanctuary at the monastery. He has been accused of robbing someone at a wedding, and has been running away from a mob who want his life.

Brother Cadfael does not believe that Liliwin is guilty. So he does some low-key investigating in a fairly thorough way, before finally uncovering the truth. There's also a mild love interest, with a servant girl who is keen on Liliwin.

I thought it was a very well-told story, with sufficient clues to enable the reader to guess who the guilty person was, eventually, but without it being obvious too early in the book.

All in all, I enjoyed it. The ending was certianly satisfying, and it made a good novel to read aloud. I won't be rushing to read others in the series, but will probably pick up others at odd moments in the future.

The Brother Cadfael series are often seen in second-hand stores or charity shops, but this one is still in print in paperback in the UK if you want a new edition.

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