Home » Book Review » Dead Man’s Ransom

Dead Man’s Ransom



by Ellis Peters

Published 1984

In this installment of my beloved Cadfael mysteries, England’s civil war impacts Shrewsbury on a personal level when, in battle, the county’s sheriff is taken prisoner by the Empress’s men.  Luckily for Shropshire, the King’s forces have a prisoner to exchange.  But when the sheriff dies before the ransom is complete, suspicion falls on the young prisoner, leaving Cadfael to untangle the truth of it.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again–a huge part of the charm of these books is their brilliant historical context.  While Peters doesn’t prose on and on about the political situation, it is an ever-present and very real part of the lives of the characters in these books.  The ebb and flow of the fortunes of the various contenders for the throne shifts military might, battles, scavengers, highwaymen, and the common folk of England all over the war-torn countryside, in a time where the smallest decision of a king or empress could have an almost immediate impact on the daily lives of many innocents.

These are wonderful books.  This title, in particular–excellent mystery, believable characters, and a well-paced story make it great fun.  5/5.

2 thoughts on “Dead Man’s Ransom

  1. Hello. I enjoy the Cadfael Chronicles immensely, and I read this one. I am a big historical fan; including medieval times. One of my favorite genres is medieval mysteries. Edith Pargeter (a.k.a. Ellis Peters) turns prose into poetry and makes Cadfael such a layed-back likable guy.

    If you enjoy historical mysteries and are interested in joining a group, you should check out the groups at LibraryThing.com and join Historical Mysteries group. There’s a lot of discussion of Cadfael; as well as the Dame Frevisse series, The Name of the Rose, etc.


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