Hamo FitzHamon of Lidyate was a wealthy but aging lord. He was unpleasant in both character and temperament, and after a small period of ill-health his mind turned more towards the fate that awaited him in the hereafter.
And so he wanted to find the most enduring – and cheapest – way he could to reduce the sins stacked against him. In the end he decided to present the Benedictine Abbey of Shrewsbury with a pair of beautifully carved silver candlesticks. He and his entourage, including his wife, her maid and two grooms, go to stay at the Abbey over Christmas, arriving on the eve of the celebration.
As soon as they arrive, the candlesticks are installed upon the altar in the Lady Chapel. However, come Christmas morning, the candlesticks have gone missing. When Hamo FitzHamon finds out he is furious and leads the search for the stolen gifts himself. However, it is Brother Cadfael, the Abbey’s herbalist, whose investigation solves the mystery.
The Brother Cadfael books are one of my favourite book series in any genre, so it comes as no surprise that I loved The Price of Light. The description provided by the author brought the medieval world to life with such ease and colour, and the characters are not only believable but engaging. Brother Cadfael, having spent many years out in the world before becoming a monk, is a smart and sensible solver of mysteries, and his sympathy with the poor and the downtrodden makes him a very endearing character.
The Price of Light is one of three short stories first published in A Rare Benedictine by Ellis Peters, documenting the early years of Brother Cadfael’s monastic life. I came across it in The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, ed. Mike Ashley.