Review of “The Leper of Saint Giles” by Ellis Peters

This fifth book in the medieval mystery series involving Brother Cadfael is my favorite thus far.

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It is 1139, and Brother Cadfael is in charge of the herbarium at the abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul of Shrewsbury. His usual assistant, Brother Mark, is serving for a year with the lepers at the nearby asylum of Saint Giles.

Unlike the common citizens, who shun the lepers, the monks are happy to serve them. As Cadfael reflects about himself, “he knows of leprosies of the heart and ulcers of the soul worse than any of these he poulticed and lanced with his herbal medicines.”

The lepers, like the rest of Shrewsbury, are caught up in the excitement of the wedding of a famous baron and his beautiful, much younger, bride-to-be. But a vicious murder halts the proceedings, and Cadfael, the unofficial coroner and detective of the abbey, must solve the crime. The focus turns to the asylum, since the place everyone wants to avoid is a perfect place to hide.

Evaluation: I love learning about medieval healing arts and customs via this “whodunnit” series. Moreover, without modern technology, the characters have nothing but their minds to help solve crimes, and sharing in their ratiocinations is most entertaining.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by William Morrow & Company, 1982

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9 Responses to Review of “The Leper of Saint Giles” by Ellis Peters

  1. Margot says:

    I’ve enjoyed following your reviews of this mystery series. I like old-fashioned detective work, the kind without CSI-type technology. This definitely qualifies as old-fashioned. Sounds like it also has some depth to it via Brother Cadfael’s remark about “leprosies of the heart” and the herbal remedies. I’m going to read them one of these days.

  2. Barbara says:

    I enjoy Brother Cadfael mysteries too but haven’t read one for a while. Must look at the library.

  3. zibilee says:

    I have been in a spate of reading about nuns and convents, and I would love to get the chance to read more about monks as well. This does sound like it’s a really interesting book, and one that might have slipped by my radar if not for your thoughtful review! I am going to have to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Belle says:

    I haven’t read any of the Ellis Peters books, although I’m actually quite familiar with the titles because I grew up hooked on Elizabeth Peters’ novels, so I have glanced at a lot of the Ellis Peters spines in my day 🙂 I keep thinking I should give the series a try – I’m not really into historical novels but I love mysteries.

  5. Nymeth says:

    I’ve been meaning to start this series for ages! I actually own the first book, but I left it back home :\ Ah well… the library probably has it anyway.

  6. Sandy says:

    I love the fact that this murder series is set in the 1100’s!!! That alone sets it apart from the ten billion other series.

  7. Jenners says:

    I read most of this series when I was in high school (at my dad’s urging). I remember enjoying them .. but that is about it.

  8. Staci says:

    I’m not sure if this is the series for me but I’m glad that you enjoyed this one the most!

  9. Alyce says:

    I’ve heard of the protagonist, but had no idea this was a mystery series.

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