BBC AUDIO CD REVIEW: Radio Crimes: Cadfael: Monk's Hood, £9 from

There's just something about crime that lends itself so well to radio adaptation. Close your eyes and you're there, in this case deep in the world of that sleuthing medieval monk Brother Cadfael.

This BBC Radio 4 dramatisation stars Philip Madoc '“ and he plays it beautifully, plunging you into a grim world driven by all the murky passions and greeds which tragically drive us still.

After the violence of civil war in the spring, Shrewsbury has enjoyed a quiet summer and a good harvest. But, as Cadfael reflects ruefully, such a peaceful state of affairs cannot be expected to last.

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He's right. The trouble begins when Gervase Bionel, rich lord of the manor, proposes to sign all his property over to the Abbey. A welcome gift, but when Bonel is found poisoned, foul play is suspected somewhere along the line. Cadfael is sure that the obvious suspect is not the right one, but are his powers of detection strong enough to lead him through the maze of clues to the truth?

It's gripping stuff, brought to life in lively style but, more importantly, in a way which keeps the story-telling clear. It's a dark, dark tale, but the cast keep you on top of it throughout two and a half hours of first-class radio.

Phil Hewitt