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The Potter's Field
By Ellis Peters
Read by Stephen Thorne

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The Potter's Field

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The Potter's Field
The Seventeenth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
By Ellis Peters
Read by Stephen Thorne
The Audio Partners Publishing Corp., (2003)
An Unabridged Recording on Six Cassettes
ISBN: 1-57270-298-2
Genre: Mystery, Historical

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 7, 2003

The year is 1143, and England is still in the throes of a war for the succession between the Empress Matilda (also know as Queen Maud) and her Cousin King Stephen. The resulting civil war which raged, on and off, through England from 1139-1148 devastated the country, as civil wars are wont to do. It is against this tremulous backdrop that Ellis Peters has set her Brother Cadfael mysteries.

Cadfael is an intriguing character. He was a soldier, and he fought in the crusades. He was a man of the world, and fully participated in all its pleasures and vices. Yet he gave it all up, and took up a religious vocation, becoming a Benedictine monk. Now his days are spent tending his herb gardens and making medicaments for the ill. His former life, however, has a tendency to intrude into the contemplative lifestyle he has chosen. His experiences with death, both as a killer and as a physician makes him the ideal candidate to investigate the deaths of others. A task that he is asked to undertake on a fairly regular basis.

In The Potter's Field, Peters's seventeenth Cadfael mystery, the good brother is once again called upon to act as a forensic anthropologist and to solve the mystery surrounding the death of the young woman. In this case, the body is discovered when monks, who are working in a field that had been given to Cadfael's abbey, turn up the body while turning over the soil. The woman had been buried with care, yet the very fact that she was buried in secret makes Cadfael wonder if she was the victim of foul play.

Discovering who the woman was, and if she was killed, is a daunting and delicate task. This task is complicated by the fact that the land in question once belonged to Ruald, one of Cadfael's fellow monks. Worse, Ruald will be an obvious suspect should it be determined that the woman had been murdered. This is because he deserted his wife to become a monk, and shortly thereafter she disappeared without a trace. Putting two and two together, everyone jumps to the conclusion that the dead woman is Ruald's wife, and that he had killed her. Speculations aside, the question still remains, who is the woman, and what happened to her? It is up to Cadfael to find the answers...

Eloquently written and plotted, this is an excellent and compelling mystery. This story is as fresh and vibrant as the first Cadfael mysteries that Peters's wrote, and the historical accuracy and context of the story is superb.

This unabridged audio recording of The Potter's Field is read by Stephen Thorne. A Shakespearean actor, Throne brings the full force of his amazing talents to bear in the reading of this fluid and bewitching story. If you are not already a Cadfael fan, you will be after listening to this tale of murder, deception, and unshakable logic.


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