The Sanctuary Sparrow (Brother Cadfael, #7)

The Sanctuary SparrowThe Sanctuary Sparrow
by Ellis Peters
Rating: ★★★
Series: Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #7
Publication Date: January 1, 1996
Pages: 216
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Book of the Month Club, Inc.

In the gentle Shrewsbury spring of 1140, the midnight matins at the Benedictine abbey suddenly reverberate with an unholy sound- a hunt in full cry.

Persued by a drunken mob, the quarry is running for its life. When the frantic creature bursts into the nave to claim sanctuary, Brother Cadfael finds himself fighting off armed townsmen to save a terrified young man.

Accused of robbery and murder is Liliwin, a wandering minstrel who performed at the wedding of a local goldsmith's son. The cold light of morning, however, will show his supposed victim, the miserly craftsman, still lives, although a strongbox lies empty.

Brother Cadfael believes Liliwin is innocent, but finding the truth and the treasure before Liliwin's respite in sanctuary runs out may uncover a deadlier sin than thievery- a desperate love that nothing, not even the threat of hanging can stop.


Not the best one I’ve read so far.  My favourite part was Liliwin’s sanctuary, and the time he spent with the brothers.  I ended up skimming the whole scene between him and Rannlit because it was all too sweet and twee for me.  Peters seemed to spend a lot more time describing scenery and settings in exhaustive detail, and I’d catch myself half way through thinking alright already.  I was also certain as to who the killer was long before the half-way mark. Sometimes the biggest clue is the way the author draws the character, and such was the case in this book; in trying to write a nondescript character, Peters created the only plausible suspect.  There were details I did miss though that added to the complexity of the plot, and they were well crafted.  The ending was a little eye-rolling, but not so much as the ending of book 6, if I recall correctly.  Peters seemed to like daring escapes, for a bit, at least.

Not a bad book, but not the best of the 7 I’ve read either, by a long shot.

2 thoughts on “The Sanctuary Sparrow (Brother Cadfael, #7)”

  1. Do you try to figure out the solution before the author gives it? This is something I am struggling with in reading mysteries, ie, the fact that some mystery writers seem to write specifically for people who do that.

    1. No, not consciously. In fact, when I’m reading a mystery that’s obviously meant for the reader to sleuth along side the MC I tend to tune the clues out because I don’t want to get bogged down in the details so much that I miss out on the story itself. But sometimes, as the case was here, a voice pops up in my head as I read saying ‘he/she did it’, and when this happens it’s the author’s writing that gives it away, not the clues. I’m not sure how to explain it except that often an author will write in a character that doesn’t really fit, or they’ll over/under emphasise the character in such a way that the character might as well be wearing the ‘red shirt’ – only in this case they’re the criminal, not the expendable. 🙂

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