Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"the abbot's agreement" by mel starr

Master Hugh is back in the next delightful installment of Mel Starr's Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton series.

A new and disturbing puzzle for the medieval surgeon-turned-sleuth

Master Hugh de Singleton is making his way toward Oxford when he discovers the corpse of a young Benedictine not half a mile from the nearby abbey.

The abbey's novice master confirms the boy's identity; it is John, one of three novices. He had gone missing four days previous, and yet his corpse is fresh. There has been plague in the area, but this was not the cause of death—the lad has been stabbed in the back. To Hugh’s sinking heart, the abbot has a commission for him.

With realistic medical procedures of the period, droll medieval wit, and a consistent underlying sense of Christian compassion, the seventh in the chronicles of Hugh de Singleton will delight medieval history and crime fiction fans alike.

Mel Starr's books are unlike anything else I've ever read. If you'd told me several years ago that one of my most anticipated reads each year would be about a bailiff/surgeon in 14th century England, I'd have laughed in your face. Yet here I am, each January, devouring the next Hugh de Singleton novel.

The Abbot's Agreement is just as enjoyable as the previous books in the series. When Hugh discovers a dead body on the way to Oxford, he is soon swept into a murder mystery ... and the investigation takes him in a direction he doesn't expect.

This novel takes place largely in an abbey, and I found this glimpse into 14th century Christianity fascinating. I've noticed in previous novels that Hugh doesn't always hold to the teachings of the church, and this disregard comes to a head in The Abbot's Agreement, landing Hugh in a tough spot. Watching Hugh get out of that scrape (because of course he must) is quite enjoyable.

As in the previous novels, The Abbot's Agreement is written as if it's Hugh's journal, complete with foreshadowing and asides, which makes the reading incredibly engaging. I loved The Abbot's Agreement, and I'm already looking forward to next January when I can read Ashes to Ashes. 5 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of the other Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton novels.

Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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