The is the 14th in the series of stories about Brother Cadfael, and Ellis Peters has the elements down pat. This story involves a mysterious stranger who suddenly turns up to be a hermit in the woods and his very attractive servant. At the heart of the book is a young man placed in the abbot’s care by his father. On the father’s death, his grandmother demands his return to his custody. She wants to wed him to the daughter of the owner of a neighboring property. This marriage will result in a very nice piece of property. Unfortunately the boy has no desire to wed and wants to stay at the monastery and continue this education.
Peters has a gift for blending all these elements into one coherent story that engages the reader in a tangle that only Brother Cadfael, with the assistance of the sheriff Hugh Berringer, can unravel.