The other night I was watching an episode of Cadfael, a British TV series based on the mystery series by Ellis Peters. For those of you not in the know, Brother Cadfael is a former soldier who now runs the herbiary at a monastery in Shrewsbury, England. In his former life, he picked up a knack for solving crime, which the local sheriff often calls upon for assistance.
And here’s the really fascinating thing about watching Brother Cadfael in action. He examines the bodies and makes deductions as sound as modern-day crime squad but without all of the fancy equipment. He just stands there and points out the injuries and expounds on which weapon likely caused them, how long the person has been dead, and whether the assailant was left-or right-handed, and a random assortment of people, usually including a handful of monks and sometimes the sheriff, stand there with their jaws hanging slightly open and eyes very wide. You can’t help but laugh at the incredulous expressions. It’s certainly an interesting look at the methods of some of the earliest crime scene investigators…or one monk’s methods, anyway.