Brother Cadfael came before fingerprinting and DNA testing, before security cameras and GPS phone tracking, back when detectives had their work cut out for them when it came to solving murders. Barring a confession or finding the bloody dagger on a suspect, it was difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone was truly guilty.
Which makes Ellis Peters' medieval sleuth all the more impressive: armed only with his own instincts and varied life experiences, he winkled out a number of miscreants in the course of twenty novels and thirteen television adaptations. By finding just a spring of a plant on the victim, he could determine where the man died and why.
When first we meet him, this singular hero is a sixty-something monk at the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, a town not far from the border between England and Wales. It's been several years since the Welsh Cadfael took up his Benedictine habit and became the herbalist of the Abbey.