• Monk's Hood

  • The Third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
  • By: Ellis Peters
  • Narrated by: Patrick Tull
  • Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (464 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When a fatal draught of Monk's Hood turns up in the dinner plate of a guest at the Shrewsbury abbey, fingers point at half a dozen likely suspects, including an abashed and bewildered Cadfael.
©1980 Ellis Peters (P)1991 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Pure pleasure ... Peters' stories have everything - colorful monks, touching young love, marvelous atmosphere, a fascinating and complex detective, and most important of all, ingenious puzzles." ( The Armchair Detective)

What listeners say about Monk's Hood

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Series Hits Its Stride

The early books (at least chronicles 1-5) in the Brother Cadfael series are a must for anyone who enjoys historical murder mysteries. Indeed, Ellis Peters pioneered the genre, now littered with many such series covering almost all periods of history and just about every continent (no Antarctic sleuths yet, that I know of).

I think Monk's Hood, the "third chronicle," is the book in which this series really hit its stride. The mystery itself is sound and has a unique resolution that may sadden some. The revelations from Cadfael's past expand the hero's character, and the "monastic politics," as exemplified by Prior Robert and his lackey Brother Jerome, lend spice to the action.

I decided to try the Patrick Tull narration for this one. I've listened to a couple of the books read by Stephen Thorne, who I find to be competent but dull, and one by Derick Jacobi, whose voice for some reason seems wrong (it's probably me, I'm afraid Sir Derick will never be anyone but Emperor Claudius to me). I wavered between finding Tull's delivery painfully slow (his renditions of any book are always much longer than other readers' presentations of the same material) and thinking it eminently suitable to the setting and character of the story. I'll have to give Johanna Ward a try next.

I'm not sure whether the number of "Caedfaelic" narrators available to choose from is a testament to the enduring popularity of this series or to liberal copyright availability; probably a bit of both, and it's nice to have the variety.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable

In Monk's Hood, someone is poisoned by the misuse of one of Brother Cadfael???s preparations, so our medieval detective is well-motivated to find out who. Cadfael is a bit handicapped by not having Hugh Beringar in charge of the investigation, by Prior Robert being in charge of the abbey in the abbot's absence, and we get to enjoy the fun, including listening to one of Brother Jerome???s smarmiest, most unctuous little speeches, this time directed toward Cadfael. Personally, I wanted to go kick the weaselly Jerome (and I apologize to the four-footed furbearing animal!) right in the butt. Differences between English and Welsh law and customs are a significant part of the story.

I had forgotten how good the story is, and Patrick Tull has now become my favorite narrator of the Cadfael chronicles.



5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Highly Recommend!

Where does Monk's Hood rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is one of the best historical mystery series (in general) that I know of. This particular book is one of the best so far. First in series I've listened to. I've read some, and watched many on TV--with Derek Jacobi playing the part of Cadfael. Any way I encounter this series I have loved. But this is the first time I've heard it read. And I'd like to say that the narrator was wonderful. I believe a different reader could have spoiled the entire experience. Characters are well-drawn, by the end of the book I felt as if they were each a clear individual--with his/her own place in the twelfth century world of England & Wales (set in and near Shrewsbury Abbey).

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well, Cadfael is always my favorite--he is rich with his own history of having lived in the secular world--indeed even having fought in the Crusades--before becoming a monk. So he is gifted with uncommon insight into the minds and hearts of people, and uses that ability to sleuth the crimes. In this book, his compassion in one part of the book, toward the end, probably is what makes this book so outstanding.

Which character – as performed by Patrick Tull – was your favorite?

All of them. Patrick Tull was the perfect narrator. I especially loved his rendition of Cadfael himself. But he makes each person have a unique (and memorable) voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, one scene toward the end, in which Cadfael sensitively works to resolve the crime in a surprising manner.

Any additional comments?

The series is wonderful, this reading of this book is one I'd listen to again, just because I so enjoyed the narration (and I rarely re-read mysteries).

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good Listen

This is a very good story and the narrators Welsh accent is well done, but very understandable.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good listen

I read this series years ago and now am enjoying listening to it. Patrick Tull is awesome as a reader

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A good story

If you can stand the l-o-n-g historical lead-in, this is a great story!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

would have been 5 stars full but...

I love Cadfael and Patrick Tull is a great reader. Too bad this book kept "mufgling" the sound which was a little distracting.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Typical Brother Cadfael

If you're a fan of this series already, you know what to expect, and this is a fine example of it. If not, then what you can get is a richly detailed picture of monastic life grounded in the historical setting and a well-crafted murder mystery. The foreshadowing is well-hidden but clear in hindsight, the characters are engaging, and the payoff is satisfying.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not the best in the series, but worth the time

Others have mentioned that this story does drag a bit, and it's true. And there was a point where it sounded like a typical Cadfael wrapping up, pondering the cosmos, only for me to find there was nearly an hour to go, and the story not thoroughly resolved yet! Good for long walks, and as an aid to sleep. Not a criticism, but it's just that leisurely and mellow.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent mystery, a story of good, evil, & mercy

"Monks Hood" (by Ellis Peters) is an engrossing tale, beginning with a spiteful father, a good -- but rebellious son -- and brother Cadfael's serenity, possibly to be lost forever, as the monks of his order wait anxiously to find out if their new abbot will be Cadfael's archnemesis within the monastery. The stories of Cadfael, long a soldier, and his decision to become a monk, are wonderful due to his worldliness (rare among the order), his wit and humanity. Familiar with, and tolerant of, human foibles, his love of a good mystery and his stubbornness in solving them, whether by hook or by crook, always entertain. "Monks Hood" is the fourth book in the "Brother Cadfael" mysteries; it's title refers to a plant the Brother uses to make a medicine. The series is equally as good whether it is read -- in book form -- or listened to, as read by Patrick Tull.

Cadfael's stories are a wonderful antidote to the present-day ugliness often delved into by modern mysteries, and can be read by young and old alike without offending. Although the "Chronicles of Brother Cadfael" series does not have to be read in order, there are breadcrumbs tying the books together that are best enjoyed by starting with "A Morbid Taste for Bones", the first book.

As his primary skill is that of an herbalist, his knowledge of plants -- and their uses -- often figure into these stories. In this audiobook, a concoction of his own making, designed to alleviate pain, is used to murder a man who is on the verge of gifting his manor to the order.

The reader is excellent, the quintessential Brother Cadfael; I can't think how anyone else could do it better. He brings out all the warmth, humor, and humanity in the character -- particularly at the end -- to perfection.

The stories have a medieval setting, and I can recommend them to anyone who enjoys a mystery that is far enough from present-day life to be entertaining, as the author deals with both the best (and worst) behavior that humanity has to offer without making you want to sleep with your lights on.

Go. Read (or in this case listen). Enjoy!