Book Jacket


rank 5905
word count 11657
date submitted 05.02.2009
date updated 02.07.2012
genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Comedy...
classification: universal

The Heretics of De'Ath

Howard of Warwick

Now number 12 on Amazon kindle chart!!!

The pointless investigations of the useless medieval investigator, Brother Hermitage.



England 1066: At the monastery of De'Ath's Dingle, during a completely pointless theological debate, there is a mysterious death.

Routine business for the average investigative medieval monk.

Unfortunately this isn’t a tale of average monks.

Anyone who would put the idiot Brother Simon in charge of a murder investigation is either one chant short of a plainsong, or is up to something.

When Brother Hermitage, innocent in every way, including bystanding, is lined up for execution, he begins to wonder if something might be going on. Perhaps his new companion Wat, weaver of pornographic tapestry, can figure out what it is. Before it's too late.

If you are a lover of the historical detective genre, if you have a deep respect for the worlds created, don’t read this book. It’ll only upset you.

Complete at 85,000 words but just four chapters loaded here.

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cadfael, comedy, crime, historical crime, investigation, monk, mystery, who dun it

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Adam Thurstman wrote 652 days ago

Hi Howard

I'd be very grateful if you could please take a quick look at my book.

Kindest regards

amyblack wrote 1197 days ago

This was a nice change for me after studying Critical Theory for the last three months.
Brilliant work! Lots of laughs!!!

B.Lloyd wrote 1227 days ago

Backed this when it was 'He's Dead YOu Idiot' - huge fun - rated for now, will be back on my shelf as soon as possible - good luck with it !

Butler's Girl wrote 1227 days ago

Intelligently written, witty, and a complex plot.
Historical research is faultless.
A wonderful novel of historical fiction.
Alison Butler

Olga Carles wrote 1229 days ago

This book is a riot. Thanks for the laughs.

James David Audlin wrote 1232 days ago

An unusual and quite delightful conceit for a novel. This fragment is quite short for getting a sense of the whole thing, but, so far as it goes, it is enjoyably humorous. I cannot help but see it as a draft, however, given the annoyingly frequent punctuational and grammatical errors, and the occasional malapropisms, as well as occasional pacing problems and clumsy syntax followed by some really well-written passages. I sincerely hope the author will let this manuscript sit for a while (go work on something else) and then come back to it with a fresh, critical eye, and then work hard to improve a very fine start.

I'll back this just as soon as the next inmate of my bookshelf is released from incarceration.

--James David Audlin
"Rats Live on no Evil Star", etc.

Ferret wrote 1235 days ago

This is extremely funny. .. pornographic tapestries... yesss... backed.

Jack Hughes wrote 1236 days ago

I was having a read earlier today and I must say that I'd never thought of giving Cadfael a humourous twist (I'm sure Mel Brooks or the Monty Python team would approve!) but you've definitely made it work here. Historical fiction can be many things; beautiful, exciting, informative, revealing and now you've also shown that it can enjoy some lighter moments as well. The characters are fantastic (especially Wat!) and there is a lovely sense of fun and frivolity. Great stuff, keep it up.

Backed as soon as I can.


child wrote 1236 days ago

Heretics of De'Ath - In a run down Abbey of no importance Brother Hermitage, a thoroughly good chap and all round good egg, who is far too naive than is good for him, has just suffered four days of excruciating boredom in conclave, which he has perversely enjoyed.
Brother Ambrosias has been putting forward an argument on a subject no one with the remnant of a grey cell could possibly give a toss about, and reaching the end of this almost debate, gently subsides and expires.
So why has Brother Hermitage been sent forth to muddle his way to Lincoln with a message for the Bishop? Why is he being stalked by two men with dastardly intent? Does the milk of human kindness flow freely through the veins of Wat, the weaver of pornographic tapestries, who is too far well dressed to be anything but a rogue, in my opinion, and why is he so interested in Brother Hermitage's welfare and the written message he refuses to open?
MORE IMPORTANT - Why has the author only loaded four chapters on the site and why isn't his work much, much higher up the rankings?
In summary of the four chapters posted: A rattling good read, beautifully fluid writing, characters vibrant, realistic and amusing dialogue, smashing plot developing and a laugh if not a snigger or a knowing wink in every paragraph.

Child - Atramentus Speaks

Sly80 wrote 1237 days ago

I knew from the tone of the blurb that I was going to enjoy this, Howard. There's an odd and devilishly clever humour threaded through almost every paragraph - 'probably had some spare in his habit had it been called for', 'went over the head of the enthusiast like a heron in a hurricane', 'Athan trod on it a bit'. I think you even get away with that 'branch of mortality' metaphor ... almost. I take that back - I read the rest of the paragraph, and you happily mangle all sense of metaphor propriety. I'm going to shut up and just read, and hope I don't choke.

I can't help it - it's too quotable: 'the intolerable pressure of reasoning', 'he had let himself go several times'...

There are elements of a farce in this send-up of Medieval detective stories, but extremely intelligent farce; when one isn't laughing it's because of being dumbstruck by some of the notions on parade. One on it's own, and a real gem, I've given this novel a very high rating and put it on my slow-moving shortlist for backing, hopefully within the next couple of weeks

Possible nits: 'the room as if it were ... the room as if accusing'. 'screamed helpfully ... answered honestly'. I wonder if it might be even more effective if the reader only discovers Ambrosius is dead at the same time as Hermitage.

Charles Thompson wrote 1241 days ago


I have just read the first two chapters of THE HERETICS of DE'ATH. It is brilliant. By the end of the second paragraph I was smirking. By the end of the third paragraph I was grinning. "Their prayer was pretty vigorous judging from all the grunting noises." Ha! The line about nurtured bitterness as only spark of generosity is genius. "lichen an outrageous frivolity" How do you come up with this stuff? Stone piler-uppers? My stomach hurts.

Occasionally, you use an introductory clause in a sentence but do not place a comma after the introductory clause. It's a minor observation, but if you go back through the chapters I think you'll see what I'm talking about. Also, I think "semi decrepit" in the second chapter should be hyphenated and "last weeks meal of putrid mouse" needs an apostrophe in the "week's"; likewise, I think "mid sentence" should be hyphenated. Also, after the quotation about the "abridged version" I believe there should be a period and then the "there" should be capitalized. I believe you need a semi-colon, rather than a comma in the middle of the sentence that begins, "Athan never needed time to think up punishments . . ." Lastly, I don't understand the bit about the tapestry. What's the image on the tapestry? Perhaps I'm just simple. Despite these minor issues, your work is a riot. It's like the Canterbury Tales on acid. Or a jester on mushrooms.

Thank you for the entertainment.


(Aralen Dreams)

whostercogburn wrote 1243 days ago

Clever and witty writing. Easy to read with some excellent dialogue.

Could find very little to quibble with in the first two chapters.
A point I'd make about an excerpt from the pitch; "one chant short of a plainsong." Plainsong is a generic term and shouldn't be used in the singular. I would've suggested "one motif short of a madrigal" - but the madrigal was a couple of centuries away, so no luck there. I shouldn't think that would furrow many brows except from fellow autistic-tinged music teachers.

In the first chapter, "The Monastery in De'ath's Dingle had a sparse population, provoked little interest from senior figures in the Church and in fact hardly attracted any attention at all." I think there should be a 'which' in front of provoked. I'd also be tempted to say "....any attention whatsoever" - which to me sounds more damningly comprehensive. Anyway, that's my wholly subjective opinion; which is also the case where I'd opt for 'flatulated' instead of 'farted' a bit further on.

This is certainly going onto my shelf, though as someone who tries to be loyal with my backings, it will be tomorrow after I've given a fair crack of the whip to others. This is the next cab off the rank.

TENBI-TALLULAH wrote 1251 days ago

Dear Howard, I really enjoyed your book, [ After my Husband Cicuta, recommended it ]. I hope you don't mind, but I read quite a lot of books, as I use to own a book store. Your style is light hearted and quintessential, which is quite a hard thing to do. I do hope you get a publisher for your book, because I think it deserves it. Best wishes, Tenbi Talulah.

cicuta wrote 1251 days ago

Dear Howard, Your book is as captivating and clever as the title suggests. The dialogue between Wat and Hermitage at the beginning of chapter four, and continuing; It is a marvellous piece of writing. You know I am no critic, but I would buy this book immediately. First, because the cover and title would have attracted me. But after only two chapters, [ Which is what I usually give any book, of any genre; before I decide to buy ], but this was as good from chapter 1, as it was to finish chapter four. And now I am left floundering as to what happens next. I will buy the first signed copy. Because it should be published. To all fellow Authonomer's! If you are looking for a read that will lift your spirits and start your day off, the way it should begin. Then back this book. Thank you Howard! You make it all worthwhile. Take care, until we meet again. Carl, [ Cicuta, Arcane ].

Joanna Carter wrote 1350 days ago

Hilarious, well written and on my shelf.
Joanna Carter
Fossil Farm

Hypo99 wrote 1364 days ago


Hope you get the chance to peek inside The Russian Hat.

warm wishes

philip john wrote 1382 days ago

Terrific stuff and a pleasure to read.

Philip John (The Ambassador's Last Post/Dead Reckoning)

Sildan wrote 1397 days ago

Wonderful touches, great humour, and an awful lot of work in getting it 'right' - and the humour puts Ellis Peters and Lindsey Davis to shame. If you haven't approached Poison Pen Press with this, then maybe have a look and see if they would be interested.

Backed and read with pleasure.

plip wrote 1419 days ago

Good stuff, comedic characters & unique situations with a sympathetic Brother Hermitage to stumble through it all.

B.Lloyd wrote 1423 days ago

:D :D :D This is a riot : more ! more! Why isn't this published/ on BBC etc ? Hope to see it in print soon.

Famlavan wrote 1467 days ago

He’s Dead you Idiot

You have a very special brilliance! This is so very funny. However behind this there feels to be a very clever well thought out piece of writing. You have created such a larger then life character and you portray him so very well. - Good luck

carlashmore wrote 1469 days ago

Pornographic Tapestries? You could be a comedic genius, sir. I loved this. Your pitch was enticing and funny in itself, but the chapters you have uploaded are quite simply terrific. I have no nitpicks and I would buy this in a heartbeat.
The Time hunters

William Roberts wrote 1474 days ago

This is well-written and very funny. I have no criticisms and am backing it.
William (The Caves of Caerdraig)

lionel25 wrote 1474 days ago

Howard, your prologue and first chapter make for an amusing, smooth read. Good job overall. Nothing to nitpick in these two sections.

Happy to back your work.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

Burgio wrote 1483 days ago

I love this story: CSI in monk's robes. It's laugh out loud funny in places; always at least mildly amusing. Also irreligious and probably has little to do with historical fact. What else could someone want in a book? A really good read. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Jared wrote 1487 days ago

Howard, I've read a lot of books on this site, but can't think of any I've enjoyed more than this. Absolutely right on my wavelength - which always helps - But this is devastatingly funny. Well presented and amusing pitches, a good cover, a brilliant title and some memorable, make that unforgettable, characters all add up to a wonderfully entertaining book. I want more, I want to read it all, backed with great pleasure.
Mummy's Boy.

Paige Pendleton wrote 1489 days ago

I thought I commented on this - I certainly meant to when I backed it. Thoroughly enjoyed.

I have a serious suggestion, though. Put some more up for us to enjoy.

Sweeping hat tip of acknowledgement to you. Well done indeed.

Melcom wrote 1489 days ago

This was an absolute riot!!

I don't think I've read something so funny in ages, thanks for making my day.


Sheila Belshaw wrote 1500 days ago



You don't find humour like this every day. I couldn't help feeling that if Alexander McCall Smith can stretch his humorous Botswana stories out into short novels and make a million, so could you. Yours are brilliant. I laughed from page one and am still smiling.

You just need to change your full stops after speech into commas and it's perfect.

Backed with great pleasure.

Sheila (Pinpoint)

KW wrote 1503 days ago

This is a hoot! It was such a pleasure to read this than the some of the more somber books on this site. "Well, if he wasn't dead before, he is now." What else but "To the Abbot." Shelved with pleasure.

AlanMarling wrote 1508 days ago

Dear Howard Matthews,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. You indicate your humor into the pitch, for which I commend you. I read The Name of the Rose, where monks do solve the mystery, so the juxtaposition should be fun. I love arguing over whether or not the divine one had sand in his shoes. I must offer objection: Sand is very much the work of the devil, as it causes me the blaspheme regularly. I chuckled at the monastery of “De’ath’s Dingle”. I laughed at how long it took them to realize the monk’s death. True, surprises are on a slippery slope to jokes, lord forbid, even laughter, which is the devil’s signal of a weak will. Great line: “Its purpose was to protrude into the business of others”.

In my fallible opinion, you could make your story start with an even greater spark by beginning it at one of the points of interest that I mentioned above. Perhaps, detail a paragraph of how long it took them to discover his death, thinking it was just a mid-debate doze, a common enough occurrence. I felt your current beginning wasn’t as tickling as those later possibilities.

This small matter aside, I enjoyed your story. Bravo! Backed.

Best wishes,
Alan Marling

Bradley Wind wrote 1512 days ago

Wish I kept better records of what I read early on when I joined. I know I read some of this. Can't see where I commented though so who knows. Certainly worth backing so possibly I backed and felt I had nothing to offer in terms of Well, I'll do so again. but this time, let me say....I think the cover well done. I think the title is v good. The pitches are strong as well.
Text: Maybe not a compliment but its reminding me of Brotherhood of the Rose...which I haven't watched in years...still...visions of Christian Slater are still there...
I know its just a dumb personal thing(another, sorry) but his name being Hermitage is...not confusing exactly since you use it in a way that I know its a character but...distracting a bit... sorry!
You've got such a great sense of humor in this.
He did look a bit dead...heheh.
Best of luck to you with this!!

writingwildly wrote 1518 days ago

What silliness is this? Well, in memory of many a night devouring the works of the lovely Edith Pargeter/Ellis Peters, I gave it a go, understood very little, but laughed despite myself.
Under the Same Sky

Nick Poole2 wrote 1520 days ago


Sort of “Oh Brother” meets “Carry On Cadfael”.

Lots of good lines in this. (liked the interminable one-sided debate about whether Jesus got sand in his sandal).

Delighted to try and resurrect this…it’s far from being a corpse yet.

“Mirror In The Sky”

George Fripley wrote 1538 days ago

Love the humour in this...I will be chasing up more of it. Backed with a great deal of pleasure. You had me chuckling out loud.

Salude El Dia wrote 1538 days ago

Well after THAT long pitch, how could I NOT read this, as a lover of serious historical fiction? This had me falling out of me chair and choking on me marmalade, such were the force and frequency of my guffaws! Solid gold, to be sure. OBTW, glad I took Latin in high school! Backed!

C.C.McKinnon wrote 1539 days ago

Really like the humour. Detectives stories often lack it. :) I will be back to read more when it is available.

JupiterGirl wrote 1540 days ago

Hi Howard, You rather threw me for a loop when I began this. I had gotten lost in your opening paragraph, forgetting what this was called and then as I moved into the body of the work I cocked my head and went, "what?" Slow me. I got it and I do believe it was more amusing thinking this was something to be taken seriously. Your following chapter had me chuckling, audibly, nice way to start the mornin.' Shelved. :0) JupiterGirl. (Twins of the Astral Plane)

Mark Reece wrote 1542 days ago

Hi, You can't help but read this very funny story with the voive of Edmund Blackadder thundering out his choice cuts. I love this. It totally appeals to me. I like the Richard Curtis style, the setting and the subtlety of whatever is going on. If this was to move to a screen play, then the spoken word would shorten a lot of the wording, but that's not bad, it's how it works with most books. My advice - write the screen play and get it front of a film guy.
Another day in Paradise

Turnip wrote 1545 days ago

Warning to all readers - 'He's Dead, You Idiot' can be habit-forming!
Too clever by far, Mr. Matthews. HDYI is very much in the vein of Black Adder. I found myself laughing inwardly. Mainly, because I'm on the train but also because I'm a pompous old git.
I could say that you have a few commas in the wrong place, but I'm not going to. I've just read chapter 1 but is it safe to assume that naked women will soon arrive on the scene?
Backed and all the best
The Rise and Fall of Ger Mayes by Ruby Barnes

Perryn Blood wrote 1551 days ago

If Boris Johnson had decided to give up mayoring and take up writing about mediaeval monks, this is what he'd write. It's dashed funny stuff. I should have liked to have read it aloud to the assembled cushions, dogs and whisky bottles, but I was laughing too hard and they would only have got one word in ten. I particularly like the apple and cowpat simile. Best - Perryn

Beval wrote 1552 days ago

This is the perfect revenge for all those hours I spent in another monks garden waitying for him to get to the point.
Lovely dry sense of humour.

Duane March wrote 1555 days ago

I loved it before and backed it before... nothing has changed!
I love the tone and originality!
How did you get the idea???
"Kings and Tyrants"

Shayne Parkinson wrote 1581 days ago

Confession: I'm fond of dear old Brother Cadfael, so probably fall into one of the groups you warn against reading this. Fortunately I ignored the warning :-) This is wonderfully silly, and simply great fun. What more needs be said?

To pick a couple of nits from ch. 1: "It's purpose was to protrude" - s/be "its". And "Because it is" doesn't quite seem to follow the previous dialogue, "I don't see why the Abbot would want to be involved".


gillyflower wrote 1591 days ago

This is a very funny book which is also a detective story. This is a combination which, for me, would be very hard to beat. Your plot starts off briskly, with the death of Brother Ambrosius and suspicion falling on Hermitage. You have already done some excellent character building. Hermitage, while someone we want to laugh at, is also very likable, so that the laughter is sympathetic. Athan, on the other hand, is quite a pain, the sort of person who doesn't like surprises, because, 'Apparently it was only a short step from a surprise to a joke, and then where would we be?' You claim in your very amusing pitch, which grabbed my interest straightaway, that you don't give us the correct historical atmosphere, but actually I think you do. The background is all there, the description of the monastery, and how it was set up, the journey on foot to Lincoln, where he is advised to take, 'A stout stave, if I were you,' all accurate and lively, but also told in an amusing rather than stodgy way. A very enjoyable book. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

Carrots wrote 1592 days ago

'Peccavi' (with apologies to General Napier). Instead of going to matins, I have been seated here, giggling insanely, for half an hour. 'Severe habit and severed leg' indeed. Douglas Adams would have loved this as well. Backed.

Jupiter Echoes wrote 1594 days ago

the present tense in the prologue certainly brings narators voice out...
the huma\our is a little dry... and i like it....
yup, i quite fancy this book on my shelf..... the idea is clever, and as far as i know, original...


Lichen Burn wrote 1595 days ago

Chrisalys says he teaches history. I sat through years of the tedious stuff and I wish it had been taught like this. Apart from the delightful dryness of the humour, the characters are so sharply drawn, the dialogue so - well, believable in the circumstances, and the events themselves so 'off the wall'. Beautifully done altogether. If I had come across this in a bookshop I would have bought it instantly (please note, HC). This should go all the way.

chrisalys wrote 1596 days ago

This is excellent writing... so quirky and wonderfully unique and delightfully funny. i teach History so this puts the Medieval period into hilarious colour for me. it brightens up my view on it and i would read excerpts of this to my class just for a laugh on a wet winter's day!
Well done, backed with enthusiasm and great pleasure
Chris (inside out)

Helena wrote 1596 days ago

Hi Howard this is really good, very funny stuff. I found the narrator in the Inceptum a little confusing and was a bit lost but when I moved onto the first chapter you got into your flow. Its very good, I like Hermitage hes a good character and jumps off the page, you have little masters of humour one that jumps at me was when you said the other debater retired to his room giving in after 5 hours to pray with his assistant, vigorously praying judging by the noise! I had to reread that piece to make sure I got it right, I think some may frown but I almost fell of my chair. Really good stuff and on the shelf. Helena (A Load of Rubbish)