Monday, February 2, 2015

The Abbot's Agreement (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton) By Mel Starr

About the book: 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.

My thoughts: I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mel Starr's previous books in the chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. 

Just what is this newest medieval novel about surgeon and bailiff Hugh de Singleton really about?

  1. Murder most foul and a whodunit in the Abby
  2. Heresy abounding in separate quarters
  3. Life in the monastery in all its mundane glory
  4. Slow, plodding life of the 1300s and feasting on wheaten bread and foul ale
  5. Desire for a Bible of his own leads to an agreement
  6. A tale of forensic crime solutions before there was forensic science

What are my thoughts on it? 

  1. I found it to be a bit more plodding than the usual Mel Starr books but life was plodding back in the 1300s. I usually find the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton to be nice change-of-pace reads and this one was just that.
  2. I found the vocabulary indicative of the time in which the story was set (without really going with the actual language and spellings of the time).
  3. I found the details a bit confusing and erroneous – the foul murder took place on a moonless or moonlit night? 
  4. I found the plot and subplot (different issues to solve) interesting.
  5. I enjoyed it though do admit that it took me longer to read than normal for a Mel Starr book. Was this my problem or one with the book itself? 
  6. I liked that the title The Abbot’s Agreement is multilayered and which is not evident until nearly the end of the book.
Author: Mel Starr is an authority on medieval surgery and medieval English. Author of the popular Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. He received an 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. 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publication on behalf of Lion Hudson in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

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