Brother’s Blood: A Medieval Mystery

Written by C.B. Hanley
Review by Ann Northfield

Set in 1217, this novel centres on the heinous murder of a monk at Roche Abbey. The abbot sends for Edwin Weaver, a man who has become increasingly valuable to the Earl as an investigator. This is the fourth in the series, and there are references to previous books. It is perfectly possible to read this as a standalone, although the first novel in the series is The Sins of the Father if you prefer to begin at the beginning.

Weaver travels with his young friend Martin, a knight in training, to the abbey to experience monastic life and try to find out who murdered Brother Alexander during the divine reading. The atmosphere of the abbey and presence of books prove a temptation for Edwin, who is drawn to a life of learning and contemplation. Medieval attitudes are clear throughout in the treatment of women, witches, disease, and religion. The reverence paid to books at that time, due to their rarity, is also a key idea.

This is a medieval variant on the Agatha Christie country house murder/mystery, with a closed list of suspects and a story that twists and turns with some red herrings and surprises along the way. The whodunnit and denouement are very much character-based and psychologically believable. Fans of Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma and Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series will be very happy with this offering.