THE VIRGIN IN THE ICE by Ellis Peters

This was my first Brother Cadfael novel and I doubt it will be the last. I’ve been resistant to the mystery genre but this was one of the best I’ve ever read. For a fairly short, genre work, the writing was exceptionally beautiful and detailed without ever becoming distracting. Peters was especially talented at evoking the weather. You will literally FEEL the cold! As a history buff, I liked the historical detail but, if you don’t like that kind of thing, you might well still enjoy the book. Peters keeps the history in the background. It’s there if you want it but it’s possible to ignore. Cadfael himself is an absolutely marvelous character. He is rather too good to be true at times but I think it works well if you don’t obsess over it too much. There are always exceptional people, in any time period. Why shouldn’t we let this fictional creation be one? Frankly there were times when I didn’t feel he was in the book enough! Luckily, all the characters were well done. The plot, which starts off as a tantalizing mystery, does kind of morph into an adventure story. It didn’t bother me at all but hardcore mystery people might not like it. Also, there are some revelations that are maybe just a bit over the line of credibility. These made me smile warmly and enjoy the fun but I understand how other readers might roll their eyes. I have no idea if any of this is typical of the series but I intend to find out. Bottom line, great fun but make sure you know what kind of fun it is. 

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