• St. Peter’s Fair

  • The Fourth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
  • By: Ellis Peters
  • Narrated by: Johanna Ward
  • Length: 7 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (198 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1139, there is a pause in the civil war racking the country, and St. Peter’s Fair promises to bring some much-needed gaiety to Shrewsbury—that is, until the dead body of a wealthy merchant is found in the river Severn. Was Thomas of Bristol the victim of murderous thieves? If so, why were his valuables abandoned nearby?

Brother Cadfael, that shrewd but kindly monk, offers to help the merchant’s lovely niece, Emma. But as he searches for the killer, Thomas of Bristol’s wares are ransacked and two more men are murdered. Emma almost certainly knows more than she is telling, and others will soon discover this, too. Cadfael desperately races to save the young girl, knowing that in a country at war with itself, betrayal can come from any direction—and even good intentions can kill.

©1981 Ellis Peters (P)1997 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

“Each addition to the series is a joy. Long may the Chronicles continue.” ( USA Today)
“Wonderful history lessons wrapped up in a mystery and served with style and grace.” ( Cincinnati Post)

What listeners say about St. Peter’s Fair

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic Cadfael

Brother Cadfael is a monk and herbalist/healer in a 12th-century Benedictine abbey on the border of England and Wales--an historically accurate location whose ruins can still be visited. The novels are set during a time of civil war and unrestas two cousins, Steven and Matilda (the Empress Maud) compete for England's throne. This series, published between 1977 and its author's death in 1995, helped launch the "historical sleuth" genre of mysteries. As with many series, the early-middle entries (Chronicles 3-8 in my opinion) seem to me to be the strongest. This entry, Chronicle 4, is one of my favorites.

There is an embarrassment of riches on Audible when it comes to narrator choice for this series. Patrick Tull, best known for his splendid narrations of the Aubrey/Maturin nautical novels, is an excellent choice for the "monastic" atmosphere of the series. But since Cadfael's stories lack the action of Aubrey's sea battles and political intrigues, Tull's low-key (if forceful) presentation can become soporific. Sir Derek Jacobi played the title role in the BBC dramatizations. Stephen Thorne is a classic English reader; his presentations are faultless, but not compelling. Then there's Johanna Ward.

It may seem strange to have a woman narrate these stories, in which almost all the major characters are male. But I found her reading to be highly enjoyable, moving faster and with more energy than other versions of these stories I've listened to. Whichever narrator you choose, if you like classic historical mysteries with lots of period ambience, you should enjoy these books.



12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Classic Cadfael

Brother Cadfael is a monk and herbalist/healer in a 12th-century Benedictine abbey on the border of England and Wales--an historically accurate location whose ruins can still be visited. The novels are set during a time of civil war and unrestas two cousins, Steven and Matilda (the Empress Maud) compete for England's throne. This series, published between 1977 and its author's death in 1995, helped launch the "historical sleuth" genre of mysteries. As with many series, the early-middle entries (Chronicles 3-8 in my opinion) seem to me to be the strongest. This entry, Chronicle 4, is one of my favorites.

There is an embarrassment of riches on Audible when it comes to narrator choice for this series. Patrick Tull, best known for his splendid narrations of the Aubrey/Maturin nautical novels, is an excellent choice for the "monastic" atmosphere of the series. But since Cadfael's stories lack the action of Aubrey's sea battles and political intrigues, Tull's low-key (if forceful) presentation can become soporific. Sir Derek Jacobi played the title role in the BBC dramatizations. Stephen Thorne is a classic English reader; his presentations are faultless, but not compelling. Then there's Johanna Ward.

It may seem strange to have a woman narrate these stories, in which almost all the major characters are male. But I found her reading to be highly enjoyable, moving faster and with more energy than other versions of these stories I've listened to. Whichever narrator you choose, if you like classic historical mysteries with lots of period ambience, you should enjoy these books.



5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A good listen

An enjoyable listen for anyone liking murder mysteries in an early English environment Value for money

2 people found this helpful

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Read by Joanna Ward? Not Kate Reading as stated?

The author was masterful in this writing. His use of the English of the 12th century was authentic enough to be convincing and altered enough to be comprehensible. The Narrator, who sounded to me for all the world like Kate Reading was brilliantly clear and her cadence and tone a joy to listen to, making me eagerly look forward my next “listen”.

1 person found this helpful

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Twelfth Century monk helps solve crimes

This is the 4th of 20 novels about Brother Cadfael, a former Crusader who became a Benedictine monk in England, near the Welsh border. The novels are set during a dangerous time of political unrest when King Stephen and Empress Maud are organizing their supporters and battling for the English crown.
This story is set during the annual 3 day St. Peter's Fair in Shrewsbury where the murder of a visiting tradesman is only the beginning to a complex series of events that involve the Abbey, local townsfolk, the Sheriff, and political intrigue.
The reader, Johanna Ward, gives a wonderful performance, providing each of the characters their own voice and accent.

I loved reading this series decades ago, loved the television series (1994-1998) with Derek Jacobj as Cadfael, and love revisiting these stories via audio books. Excellent historical mystery series.

1 person found this helpful

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I really enjoyed this.

Kept me interested. I'm looking for my next òne right meow. twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen words, for crying out loud.

1 person found this helpful

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An Escape

Elis Peters writes literate novels that assume the reader is intelligent. The Brother Cadfael stories are well thought out very well written. The characters are believable and the stories plausible. "St. Peter’s Fair" isn't Peter's best novel, but in a world of gratuitously gruesome and vulgar entertainment, her historical fiction is always an escape.

I thought that a woman reader portraying male characters might not work, but Johanna Ward does a wonderful job. Enjoy!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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why a woman?

Cadfael is a man and having this narrated by a woman softens his character. He's supposed to be a former Crusader, someone who hacked and chopped and stabbed his way through Muslim hordes for king and Christ. Instead we got Derek Jacoby for the series and women narrating his books. They've made Mr Rogers out of a rough hewn, man of the soil. It doesn't work.

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Excellent reading of a favorite Cadfael mystery

The reader did a good job; Cadfael had a slight Welsh inflection; the action and high points in the story were treated well. Though it would be nice to have a male Cafael voice, I did not encounter the issues with volume, performance, etc mentioned in other reviews. I recommend it!

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Murder during the fair - great mystery

This was a very enjoyable addition to the Cadfael series (probably best of the series so far). A merchant is found murdered during St. Peter’s Fair and Cadfael must investigate. I confess that I guessed who the guilty party was rather early in the book, and you will too if you’re familiar with Ellis Peters and the Cadfael series. It’s not the clues that give away the guilty party, but the character’s role in the novel. Still, the mystery was a good one and the plot was well paced and with suspense. Johanna Ward was a good narrator.