Another in the ever-fascinating Brother Cadfael chronicles (The Rose Rent, etc.). taking the reader back to 12th-century England, where Cadfael's Benedictine Abbey in Shrewsbury is relatively untouched by the country's civil war. There's a different war being waged there, however, after the death of Richard Ludel, Lord of Eaton. His ten-year-old son and heir Richard, placed in the cave of Abbot Radulfus years before, has been kidnapped from the Abbey by his imperious grandmother Dionisia in a scheme to marry him to Hiltrude, daughter of neighboring landowner Fulke Astley, and thus to magnify the holdings of both. Stalwart, clever Richard was entrapped by his own good will towards Hyacinth, a runaway serf, object of a vindictive manhunt by brutal Drogo Bosiet and his son Aymer. Now Hyacinth, acting as servant to hermit and self-designated holy man Cuthred, is forced to hide, with help from new-found love Annet. And when Bosiet pete is found stabbed to death in the forest, the hunt is truly on--not only for his killer but for the missing Richard. Cadfael teams with Sheriff Hugh Beringar, as he has many times before, to solve those puzzles, a second murder, the mystery of an older, never-solved crime, and the part played in all of it by reticent Abbey visitor Rafe De Genville. Swift-moving, intricate plotting, richly tapestried background, and unpretentious but literate style in the telling once again work their magic as Peters continues to en-thrall.