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First Line Fridays 27: A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Friday has spun around again! Today I am featuring the first novel in a series of Medieval Detective stories which has become famous around the world, thanks to the TV adaptations starring Derek Jacobi which were first broadcast in the 1990s. 

A Morbid Taste for Bones was the first book in the Cadfael Chronicles, a series of historical mystery novels which featured a rather unusual sleuth: a 12th century Benedictine Monk by the name of Brother Cadfael. 
Cadfael is a Welsh came, which is fitting, because the stories are set in and around the city of Shrewsbury, which is on the Welsh borders in the modern county of Shropshire during a period known as 'The Anarchy'. This was a civil war between two rival claimants to the English throne in the first half of the twelfth century, Matilda and her Cousin Stephen of Blois, both grandchildren of William the Conqueror. 

Ellis Peters was in fact the pen name of a female author Edith Parteger,  and those familiar with the TV series might be surprised to discover that the book featured was in fact the first book Chronologically, because the TV adaptation co-starring Stephen Moyer and Anna Friel  was the final episode of season two.

My grandmother used to own the complete collection of the novels, and Amazon recently had the first three titles on offer on Kindle, so I purchased them.

In the remote Welsh mountain village of Gwytherin lies the grave of Saint Winifred. Now, in 1137, the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the sacred remains for his Benedictine order. Native Welshman Brother Cadfael is sent on the expedition to translate and finds the rustic villagers of Gwytherin passionately divided by the Benedictine's offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise, and all too wordly, he isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to bloody murder.

The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself held the bow. Brother Cadfael knows a carnal hand did the killing. But he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice...where the wages of sin may be scandal or Cadfael's own ruin.

The first line is rather on the long side, so I might not bother to use it when commenting on other member's blogs this week.

On the fine, bright morning in early May when the whole sensational affair of the Gwytherin relics may properly be considered to have begun, Brother Cadfael had been up long before Prime, pricking out cabbage seedlings before the day was aired, and his thoughts were all on birth, growth and fertility, not at all on graves and reliquaries and violent deaths, whether of saints, sinners or ordinary decent, fallible men like himself.

So that's my contribution for this week. Be sure to click the meme to check out what the other members of the First Line Fridays Group are reading, or just post the first line of your current book.
Happy Reading and have a great weekend.


  1. Phew, that is quite the first line! Love that you're sharing books your grandmother had!

    My TBR pile includes The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck. The first line: “Life is filled with irony.”

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. It is isn't it. Not heard of your book but the first line is great. Happy weekend.

  2. The book I'm sharing on my blog is Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, but the book I'll share here is the one I am currently reading called Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson: "Candlelight flickered on the medieval walls as Gisele Duchant stepped into the warmth of the nave." Hope you have a great weekend! :)

    1. Oh, I have read a couple of Mrs. Dobson's books but not that one. I am interested. Happy reading and happy weekend.

  3. I'm featuring "Beneath a Prairie Moon" by Kim Vogel Sawyer on the blog today, but I'm going to share about the book I'm currently reading called "The Story Peddler" by Lindsay A. Franklin.

    Colored ribbons of light poured from my fingers. One strand broke free and soared above the crowd's head, glowing golden in the afternoon sun.

    Have a great weekend and happy reading! :)

    1. That's a good first line. Something to do with a performer? Happy weekend.

  4. Happy Friday!!!! I'm so excited for the weekend.

    I'm sharing the first line from The Weaver's Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd over on my blog today. Here, I will post the first line from a YA novel I teach to my 9th Honors English students -- Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin,

    "The end came quickly, and there wasn't any pain."

    1. I need to read that Sarah Ladd book soon. Happy Weekend.

  5. Mysteries will always be my favorite genre. :) Happy Friday!

    1. Good to hear it. I can see from your name. Happy Weekend.

  6. This time period intrigues me so much!

    1. It is pretty fascinating. There is always something going on in the background with the Cadfael stories. Happy weekend.

  7. Happy Friday! My first line is from Miss Wilton's Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack, which will be released May 1st:

    "As a vicar's daughter, Lenora knew that doing the right thing was not always easy, in fact it was rarely so."

  8. I've heard of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, but have never read them. I think that's because I like to start a series at the beginning, but could never find the first book - so thanks for the heads-up that they are now on Kindle!

    Over on my blog I'm sharing from Where Hope Begins by Catherine West ... which I finished about four hours after starting it.

    I'm now reading A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden. Here's the first line of the Prologue:

    "You and your brother are to go to the music room, close the door, and don't come out until I say you can."

    Have a great weekend!

    1. It is kind of confusing, because they started the TV series with the second story 'One Corpse Too Many', because it made more sense in terms of the characters and storyline.

      4 hours is quick to finish a book. Well done and happy weekend.

  9. I’m sharing from my current read, The Backcountry Brides Romance Collection from Barbour Books, on my blog today. So here is the first line from the prologue of a book I plan to read soon, The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron:

    “Crumbling walls were rare, beautiful things.”

    Have a great weekend!


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