(creator: Lindsay Jacob)
|Father Eadred is a young introspective Anglo-Saxon priest living in the 830s, who describes himself as "a quiet man". He has a slight frame and doleful brown eyes and felt "bedevilled by his own weakness". He would have preferred to be a monk rather than a priest, but his bishop had decided otherwise. According to his friend, the hermit Tatwine, he has the great gift of being a peacemaker and reconciler. He is no stranger to alcohol, but for him "inebriation was seldom acompanied by mirth but to ease the anguish that came upon him when the demon elves had their way".
He was no saint and "had accepted the favours of several young women he had attended", although "after each of his failings, he wept, confessed and prayed for forgiveness and for the strength to resist temptation when it met him once more". He was prone to self-recrimination, although his bishop assured him, " You are destined for great achievements."
Lindsay Jacob was born in East Anglia and attended the Cambridge Grammar School for Boys before travelling and settling in Australia where he read anthropology and economics at Sydney University. He became private secretary to a cabinet minister in the Australian Government and an experienced speech-writer. Murder at Elmstow Minster (reviewed below) is his second novel, but the first to feature Father Eadred. It is self-published and he hopes further Father Eadred novels will follow.
Murder at Elmstow Minster (2021)
It is a remarkably violent tale with bloodthirsty descriptions of everything from trial by hot iron to rape and mutilation. Here is an example:
The blurb claims that the author's "understanding of Anglo-Saxon history is recognised as intelligent and thorough" but his portrayal of human beings can often seem less than convincing. Eadred himself does not really come alive as a convincing priest - indeed he happily makes love to one of the nuns and even contemplates murder. He has been compared to Brother Cadfael (although the Cadfael stories were set 300 years later), but unfortunately he lacks Cadfael's humanity, warmth and reader appeal.
|The (uncredited) cover is quite striking.|