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One Corpse Too Many (thoughts) and The Themed Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

August 20, 2009

one-corpse-too-manyAfter much craziness, that involved my fibro, a laptop in a coma, and an extended babysitting job, I’m finally back. :D And this time it’s for real; get ready for almost-daily posts again, and probably a ridiculously long Sunday Salon trying to talk about the books I’ve been reading. :) I thought it best to jump right into the swing of things, and review a wonderful mystery book I just finished: One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters. I also need to wrap up the Themed Reading Challenge, which ended last month, and since my theme was the Middle Ages, it fits in perfectly. :)

One Corpse Too Many is the second in a mystery series featuring Brother Cadfael, a twelfth-century monk living in Shrewsbury. I read A Morbid Taste for Bones, the first back, back in 2007 and enjoyed it very much. It’s a sign of what book blogging has done to my TBR list that it took me this long to get to the second one!

I found this one better than the first, in that the plot grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let me go until the very end. I read it in a day (although not in one sitting), since it’s about 200 pages, and I stayed up a bit past my bedtime because there just wasn’t a good place to stop. :) Brother Cadfael is wonderful; I love his belief in justice and honour, his gentle amusement and support of young people, and of course his marvelous intelligence.

The mystery is quite interesting; Shrewsbury Castle has just fallen in the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud. Stephen hangs ninety-four men to make a point, but when Cadfael is preparing the bodies, he discovers a ninety-fifth one, and this one has been strangled. Cadfael convinces Stephen that justice is important, and begins to solve the case. Meanwhile, there’s political intrigue going on, as Cadfael helps shelter a fugitive or two, and as the abbey must adjust to a new, although possibly temporary, ruler. Peters juggles the various threads beautifully. And while I did guess the murderer (I usually do), there was a twist to one character’s personality that I didn’t expect but that flowed organically with the story. Does that make sense? Obviously I haven’t tried writing about a book in awhile: look at all of those run-on sentences!

All in all, I was delighted to be back with Brother Cadfael, and I certainly won’t wait two years before picking up the third book, Monk’s Hood.

Now for the challenge wrap-up! The idea was to pick a theme among your TBR books, and then read four relevent books by July. I managed three by July, but although I just finished this one, I’m counting it anyway. So I kind of completed this challenge. ;)

The books I read, linked to my reviews:
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley (I guess I forgot to review this one! But I gave it four stars-it was an interesting look at Ireland as it was changing from pagan to Catholic.)
A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde
One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters

The best book: I’d say that’s a tie beween Queen of Scots and One Corpse Too Many. They’re so different, biography vs. mystery, but they both felt scholarly and fascinating.
Any new authors?All but Peters.
Books I did not finish: I didn’t get to four of the books in my pool, but I didn’t start any of them.
What did I learn from this challenge? I learned a lot about Mary, Queen of Scots. :) She had a fascinating life!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2009 5:51 pm

    This sounds so good! I love the cover, and I’m definitely going to look for the Brother Cadfael mysteries!

  2. August 20, 2009 5:52 pm

    What an interesting-looking book.

    Welcome back, Eva! I look forward to your daily-ish posts!

  3. August 20, 2009 7:01 pm

    I looooove the Brother Cadfael books!!!


  4. August 20, 2009 7:31 pm

    Welcome back! This sounds like a fabulous read. I would have never thought of the combination of historical fiction, mystery and a monk, but you make it sound irresistible.

  5. August 20, 2009 8:14 pm

    Glad you’re back and hope you’re feeling better! I used to read mysteries (when part of a series) one after another, but I rarely do that these days. I will love a book but then I will immediately be drawn to something different. I have lots of authors I need to get back to (like Laurie King). And I need to try Ellis Peters, too. I have one or two of her books on hand.

  6. August 20, 2009 8:19 pm

    Such a great, comforting series, enjoy your Brother Cadfael.

  7. August 20, 2009 10:39 pm

    I think I was considering an Ellis Peters book at the library… I’ll definitely keep it in mind! I think this winter is going to be a mystery winter, which is unusual for me, but I keep reading about some interesting ones!

  8. August 20, 2009 11:53 pm

    Laptop in a coma, I know, I know it’s serious
    Laptop in a coma I know I know it’s really serious
    do you really thing it’ll pull through..?

    Welcome back. Glad you’re feeling better.

  9. August 21, 2009 5:19 am

    Happy you are back!

  10. August 21, 2009 7:38 am

    When I discovered the Brother Cadfael mysteries I read them all at once until there were no more because they were so good (and so easy to read). There was evidently a tv series based on these books at one point, but I’ve never seen it.

  11. August 21, 2009 8:59 am

    Great to see you back on blogging! I’ve read a number of Brother Gadfael mysteries and liked them all. If you haven’t read any Sister Frevisse mysteries by Margaret Frazer (15th century) or Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Tremayne (7th century Irland), you might want to give those a try. I love historical mysteries and kind of collect fiction about nuns/sisters, so I know a number of mysteries where the detective is a nun or a sister. :)


  12. August 21, 2009 11:51 am

    It’s good to see you back! I look forward to your posts as well.

    I see Arabian Nights is still in your sidebar. Are you still reading it? I finished it and the Haddawy vol II last month. I now see what he means about the first one being from a better edition! It was much better.

    Anyway, welcome back!

  13. August 21, 2009 12:59 pm

    I’ve never read a mystery, but I loved your review of One Corpse Too Many and have now added it to my wishlist! Thank you!!

  14. August 21, 2009 2:06 pm

    Rhapsody, the covers are all stained-glass style, isn’t that great?!

    Amanda, thanks!

    Lezlie, that doesn’t surprise me-they seem like your style. :D

    Kim, aww thanks! I have a weird thing about monks and nuns, lol. I think it comes from being raised Catholic!

    Danielle, I tend to want to ‘save’ books that I know I want for rainy days. Weird, huh?

    Raider Girl, thanks!

    Daphne, I’ve loved mysteries for a long time. I did a project my senior year of high school on the evolution of the English mystery novel. :D

    Bybee, lol! You make me laugh!

    Deb, thank you!

    Jeanne, there are twenty right?! I saw a couple pictures from the TV show and he doesn’t look like my Brother Cadfael, lol.

    Tiina, ohhhh-thank you for the recommendations!

    Rebecca, thank you! I am still reading it-I got distracted, lol. I have maybe 70 pages left to go. I guess I’ll hold off on the second volume for awhile!

    Lisa, that’s so nice of you to say. :) But you’ve never read a mystery?! Oh I have so many recs for you! hehe

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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