The Holy Thief (Brother Cadfael #19) ★★★☆½

holythief (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Holy Thief
Series: Brother Cadfael #19
Author: Ellis Peters
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Medieval Mystery
Pages: 288
Format: Digital Edition



Two fellow Benedictines from a neighboring enclave come in search of offerings of money, prayers, skilled labor and materials for help in rebuilding their plundered abbey. A great amount of all 4 are raised and sent on back to the abbey while the 2 brothers head to other abbey’s to keep on raising more support. The cart and its inhabitants are waylaid by bandits and while the men escape with their lives, all the materials and money is gone.

At this time, it is discovered that the reliquary supposedly containing the bones of the welsch Saintess has gone missing. Suspicion falls on the younger of the monks from the ruined abbey and a witness is called to prove he did take the reliquary. Said witness ends up dead and discovered by the younger monk. Lots of twistings and turnings later, it all comes out that it was done by the assistant to a travelling musician who had stolen the valuables and then murdered the witness to the stealing of the reliquary on the off chance he had seen the assistant take the gold and jewels.

Said young monk, who has a voice from heaven, runs off to Wales with the slave girl of the travelling musician who also has the gift of singing. The bones of the Saintess are returned safely to Shrewsbury, the murderer is taken and everything works out for the best, with the exception of the murdered shepherd, poor sap.


My Thoughts:

It is about phracking time that this series got back to having Cadfael as a main character again. I bumped this up at least half star just for that reason alone!

The other thing I really liked was that brother Jerome, that sniveler, that ass kisser and general sucker upper to Prior Robert, lost control and whacked the shepherd over the head. He thought he killed the guy but sadly, it turned out to be someone else put the finishing kabosh on the poor shepherd. I have to admit, I was hoping it WAS Jerome just so the sheriff, Hugh Beringar, could string him up and hang him dead. Jerome has been a worm since the first book and I want him dead. Oh well.

The whole young love thing is just such a trope in this series at this point that I just shrug my shoulders and think “oh well”. The problem I do have it is that it allows Peters to give voice to her rather ecumenical and unscriptural theology using a monk and so add weight to her thoughts.

I enjoyed this read from start to finish, which is a good change from the last couple of Cadfael books. I only have 2 more to go in this series and I’m really hoping they end strong and not with a whimper.



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16 thoughts on “The Holy Thief (Brother Cadfael #19) ★★★☆½

    1. Thanks Frank. Sadly, with this being an “almost” cozy mystery series, none of the supporting characters are going to die. And with only 2 books left in the series, I suspect this was as close as Peters was going to go with “redeeming” Jerome.

      But I could be wrong and the last book could be all about the village and abbey getting sacked by Vikings, or something 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually found it through the tv show. BBC (I believe) put out a show with 6-12 episodes and each episode, from 90-120min, was pretty much a book. It starred Derek Jacobi too, so that was a big draw for me. I liked them well enough that I decided to read the books. Once I finish up the series I’l probably write a Series wrapup post, since I started this almost 5 years ago 😀


  1. I loved these books! I read loads of them in England as my mum loved them so they were always around the house and honestly – I’ll read anything! I’ll have to start the series again to be sure I haven’t missed any, thanks for the reminder!
    I have often wondered if they were inspired by Umberto Ecos ‘Name Of The Rose’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, the likelihood is that ol’ Humbert Umberto took the idea from Peters herself. The first Cadfael book came out in ’77 and Rose came out in ’80.

      That being said, it could very well be that the popularity of Rose gave Cadfael a shot in the arm to keep on going.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s as if the Gods have answered your prayers regarding the MC in this series. I still remember how annoyed you were that the focus was shifting on that other character. Hope it ends well. So much commitment to this series. 😮 We don’t want you to start regretting all that, huh? 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

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