A tenuous peace reigns in the north of England in spring of 1142, and Brother Cadfael--herbalist-sage-sleuth of Shrewsbury's Benedictine monastery (The Devil's Novice, etc.)--is faced with the murder of young, intense Brother Elude, found stabbed to death near a half-destroyed rosebush in the garden of a house donated to the abbey by Judith Perle. Judith, now 25, widowed three years before, runs the family's prosperous clothing business, with help from her cousin Miles, and is the target of several suitors, among them wealthy fleece-processor Godrey Fuller and Vivian Hynde, charming wastrel son of the shire's biggest sheep-rancher. But Cadfael has scarcely begun probing Eluric's death when Judith herself suddenly disappears. The whole town and most of Sheriff Hugh Beringar's garrison turn out to look for her, none more concerned than Naill, the bronzesmith tenant of her gift to the church and caretaker of the rosebush she cherishes. There will be another murder before Judith reappears, and a desperate attempt on her life, foiled by Naill, before Cadfael's inspired hunch brings forth unassailable evidence that pinpoints the murderer. The author's prolific but unflaggingly inventive Cadfael stories may not be mead for everyone, but they continue to educate, absorb and enchant her legion of fans. The Rose Bent is no exception.