The sleuthing monk unravels a thorny case of murder in this “accomplished whodunit meticulously wrought with a wealth of medieval detail” (Booklist).
A late spring in 1142 brings dismay to the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, for there may be no roses by June 22. On that day the young widow Perle must receive one white rose as rent for the house she has given to benefit the abbey, or the contract is void. When nature finally complies, a pious monk is sent to pay the rent—and is found murdered beside the hacked rosebush.
The abbey’s wise herbalist, Brother Cadfael, follows the trail of bloodied petals. He knows the lovely widow’s dowry is far greater with her house included, and she will likely wed again. Before Cadfael can ponder if a greedy suitor has done this dreadful deed, another crime is committed. Now the good monk must thread his way through a tangle more tortuous than the widow’s thorny bushes.
In this 13th mystery in the Brother Cadfel series, a beautiful widow rents part of her estate to the brothers of Shrewsbury Abbey for the modest sum of one rose from a certain bush, per year, and all are happy with this arrangement for three years. But then Brother Eluric,the young monk whose job it is to deliver the rose on the day of St. Winifred's translation (the pre-arranged rent-paying day) asks to be excused from the task (he finds he's starting to fall in love with the widow); he is later found murdered near the recently ruined rose rent bush. The abbey is thrown into a panic; not only has an innocent young monk been killed, but with no rose to pay the rent, the contract is canceled and the widow's wealth multiplies remarkably. Soon, the widow herself disappears, and Brother Cadfel begins his search for her and for Eluric's murderer, casting his eye over a large collection of suitors, all of whom would gain greatly from a match with the widow. Peters (The Raven in the Foregate is in fine form in this 13th book, with a leisurely mystery that once again creates a 12th century world that is both comfortable and strange, and a series of delightful, interesting characters.