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The Abbot's Agreement

valoraciones:
4/5 (19 valoraciones)
Longitud:
309 página
5 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Aug 15, 2014
ISBN:
9781782641100
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

"My life would have been more tranquil in the days after Martinmas had I not seen the crows. Whatever it was that the crows had found lay in the dappled shadow of the bare limbs of the oak, so I was nearly upon the thing before I recognized what the crows were feasting upon. The corpse wore black."


Master Hugh is making his way towards Oxford when he discovers the young Benedictine - a fresh body, barefoot - not half a mile from the nearby abbey.

The abbey's novice master confirms the boy's identity: John, one of three novices. But he had gone missing four days previously, and 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 ...

Editorial:
Publicado:
Aug 15, 2014
ISBN:
9781782641100
Formato:
Libro

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4.1
19 valoraciones / 16 Reseñas
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  • (4/5)
    The Abbots Agreement is the 7th book in the series. The medieval background enhances the reading experience while putting the clock back to a time before mysteries were solved by forensics. You can read this as a stand-alone mystery however I warn you, you will become attached to the character and times of Hugh de Singleton and will be back for more. I recommend this series for those who like a cozy mystery, a police procedural or just any murder mystery.
  • (4/5)
    I received this book as an Early Reviewer.This book is the seventh in the "Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon' none of which I had read before, but this book did not require prior knowledge of the series to follow the plot and appreciate the character of Hugh. Occasional mentions of events in earlier books made me want to go back to read them. Hugh, who is the surgeon and bailiff of Lord Gilbert Talbot, is on his way to Oxford with his servant, Arthur, when circling crows cause him to investigate their interest only to discover a novice monk who has been stabbed to death. Arthur is sent to notify the monks at the closest Benedictine monastery of Eynsham Abbey. The Abbot requests Hugh, with Lord Gilbert's permission, to find the murderer and promises that his monks will copy a Bible for Hugh in return.Why was the murdered novice outside the Abbey at night when he should not have left the abbey or even had a key? In the process of investigating Hugh interviews the local townspeople and travels further afield, at some risk to himself, to the novice's family home.Something else is very wrong in the Abbey and when the elderly Abbot is pushed and falls finding the murderer becomes part of a larger and more urgent problem which affects the very existence of the Abbey.There is a very helpful glossary at the beginning of the book as well as a map of Eynsham Abbey. I would recommend this book, and probably the whole series, to historical fiction lovers especially those who enjoy medieval historical novels.
  • (4/5)
    I received this book as an Early Reviewer book and enjoyed it quite a bit. I had not known of Mel Starr or his Singleton series, but even after several months [my review being late], the book stays with me. The story here is intriguing and the character of Hugh is likable and interesting. What I liked most about the book was the reality of the investigative methods used. After all, we are in medieval England and deciding the time of death or the circumstances takes observational skill and deduction. Which is what de Singleton has. I also enjoyed the mix of the venal and decent religious persons and other characters. How no person is precisely one type or another. This was a good introduction to Starr's works and I'll be reading more.
  • (4/5)
    Another installment with our Everyman hero Hugh de Singleton. Hugh is journeying to Oxford to purchase his own copy of the Bible; however, he and traveling companion Arthur discover the bird-ravaged body of a novice from the local abbey. Abbot Thurstan entreats Hugh to forego his journey to Oxford and investigate the murder in return for his own monk-produced copy of the Bible. When Hugh accepts, his troubles are just beginning. What circumstances caused the murder of the arrogant novice? Was it romantic intrigue or political intrigue? Will Hugh be able to complete his investigation, or will he be held in prison or worse for heresy?
  • (4/5)
    I just received the first book The Unquiet Bones a couple weeks before this one to read for review. So I've read the 1st and 7th book and I have to say this looks to be a very good series. I can't wait to read the other 5 books!Hugh is on his way to Oxford to buy a Bible when he spots crows on the edge of a field. He discovers it's a novice from the nearby monastery. The Abbot persuades Hugh to find the culprit. The Abbot offers to have a Bible copied for him as payment. It is a hefty fee and so Hugh accepts. He does have second thoughts when he is accused of being a heretic and was arrested.Hugh travels the countryside trying to find the murderer and follows a few false trails. Great book can't wait to read the rest of the series.
  • (3/5)
    The Abbot’s Agreement is from Mel Starr’s Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. Actually it is the 7th book, which I did not realize. (I try not to choose a book from the middle of a series. I feel that there is normally a sense of loss not starting from the beginning with the characters and seeing them grow through their experiences.) I did not have time to read the first six before ;) , but the book worked out as my first book from The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. There was a few small references that I assumed were from Master Hugh’s previous adventures written in the other chronicles.The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton series is set in medieval England with the main character of Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon and bailiff to Lord Gilbert. The Abbot’s Agreement starts out with Hugh traveling to Oxford to purchase a Bible. He travels with Arthur, a groom in the service of Lord Gilbert. (From my reading of this book I also assume that Arthur has been involved in the other adventures.) The body of a young novice from the nearby Eynsham Abbey is found on their journey and changes Hugh’s plans dramatically. The abbot from the abbey asked Hugh to look in to the crime in exchange for the brothers to make him his Bible. …Is this agreement worth it?! Mel Starr includes a glossary at the beginning of the book just in case his readers aren’t familiar with the medieval terms. I read through it before I started the novel to give me a little bit of background information. I have not read any books set in the medieval times! However, I found it very tedious to go back and forth while I was reading the story. Therefore I stopped using it for the most part and I was able to follow the story and enjoy it. I did get lost in some of the titles and names. I enjoyed seeing how Master Hugh investigated a crime in this time period, without all the technology of today. My favorite part of the book was the humorous exchanges between Hugh and Arthur when Arthur “helped” a with a couple guys who weren’t as cooperative!! While it was an interesting and entertaining read, I’m not sure I will check out the beginning of the chronicles. Maybe later…right now I would rather read a book in a setting that is easier for me to step into as a reader.Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.
  • (5/5)
    I cannot get enough of Mel Starr! His books are amazing! Sometimes writer’s books will be extremely similar in many ways, but not Mr. Starr. Each book I have read is so varied in the plot and characters, plus there is always something new I learn historically. It is like historical lessons about the 1300’s and super entertaining murder mysteries rolled into one! I am absolutely fascinated by Master Hugh’s practice of medicine during that time, and also challenging aspects of day to day living. It is obvious the author has done his research with his vivid descriptions and the detailed imaginary he brings to life through his writing. I appreciate especially how clean and wholesome his books are. Master Hugh plans to make a quick trip from his home in Bampton to Oxford to buy himself Bible he had long wanted. The only other Scripture he had was the book of John which he had copied by hand. He had 30 shillings with which to purchase it which would be the equivalent to over $800 today! Incredible considering most homes now have a minimum of 1 -3 Bibles. Arthur, the Sylvester Stallone of grooms, was going with him for protection. Hugh especially wanted to hurry back as his wife was expecting their second child soon.As they near an Abbey his attention is drawn to a large group of noisy birds feasting on something. He and Arthur stop to investigate and make a gruesome discovery. A novice from the Abbey lay dead and his face destroyed beyond recognition by the hungry fowl. After reporting the body to the Abbey, Hugh is ready to continue on his journey. Abbot Thrustan is weak and frail, and very persuasive. Knowing of Master Hugh’s skills he asks him to find the murderer. He offers to pay for and send a midwife to stay with Hugh’s wife Kate and also to give him a Bible for free. The latter Master Hugh and his pocket book can’t refuse.While medicine, science and crime investigation in this era are minimal, Hugh Singleton more than compensates by making astute use of every faculty at his disposal. Even upon finding the body he was paying close attention to clues others would miss. He was a shrewd judge of character and could discern body language and attitudes of others with astonishing accuracy. His keen sense of humor and sharp mind bring the story even more to life. Anxious to collect his Bible and return home, he is discouraged by the lack of clues and the few leads he does have coming to a dead end. I even shared in his disappointments and even began to wonder how he would ever solve this murder. As his investigation progresses he not only finds himself and Arthur in danger, but uncovers even greater hidden crimes. Every time I was sure I knew who was guilty, new evidence would appear and the plot would change! Until reading this book I knew little about the lives of monks in medieval England. I found it quite intriguing and never realized how restrictive and ritualistic their abbey life was. One of my favorite parts of the book was Hugh’s primitive practice of medicine; it is always a different medical situation. Once again I was surprised the striking difference between healing then and today. I can’t imagine suffering as people did with so little to help them. This book is filled with excitement, mystery, surprises, history, and faith. An exceptional book written by one of the best historical fiction writers of our time!I received this book free from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
  • (4/5)
    Disclosure: I received a copy of this book via the LT Early Reviewer Program.I've read several other books in this series, so I was excited to get the next one free! This one is a bit different--most of the action takes place inside a monastery, so...well. It's a bit more "what did he know and when did he know it" rather than fast-pacing and adventure.These are first person mysteries set in 1300s, and the author lets you see the clues clearly before letting the narrator come to the conclusions. That's fun if you like to try to puzzle things out yourself; there are some annoying narrative spoilers, though. Religion is a major theme in the book (duh), which can read as a bit heavy handed to a modern reader that isn't terribly devout. A nice solid little medieval mystery in a decent series. A quick read, and nice diversion. Note that women are pretty much absent in this novel, other than something to fight over.
  • (5/5)
    Things are not as they should be at tranquil Eynsham Abbey. On his way to Oxford, Hugh de Singleton, surgeon, happens upon the mutilated body of a young Benedictine novice. At the nearby abbey, Hugh learns of a lad who has been missing for four days. Upon further examination of the body, Hugh discovers 'twas not the plague that did him in, but murder. To Hugh's dismay, the abbot commissions him to uncover the culprit in exchange for a Bible. Although the abbot only asks for his best effort, Hugh soon questions his decision to accept. The investigation takes several complicated twists and turns as Hugh seeks a killer and uncovers a sinister secret hidden within Eynsham Abbey.The Bottom Line: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon are one of my favorite mystery series. In the 7th installment, Hugh's character continues to evolve as both his family and his responsibilities grow. Like the previous books, this is written in the first person in the form of a journal. This quick read touches on darker topics than previous books, and author Mel Starr includes plenty of red herrings to keep readers guessing. My only complaint is that this installment is too short; I'm already looking forward to the next one. Readers of medieval mysteries and Christian fiction will want to give this series a try. Those new to the series will find ample backstory included without having to read the books in order. A glossary of medieval terms and maps are included.
  • (4/5)
    A chilly Autumn 1368 in Bampton, England finds surgeon and bailiff, Hugh de Singleton, happily contemplating his possible acquisition of a Bible, soon to expand his library to six(!) books. Sadly, his journey to an Oxford bookseller is soon disrupted by the foul discovery of the corpse of a young man. It takes little to determine the unfortunate young man had been a novice at a nearby Abbey. What remains -- at Abbot Thurstan's request -- is to discovery the identity of the loathesome murderer. Does evil lurk within the Abbey .... Or without? A fast moving mystery, replete with ample Medieval detail and vocabulary. There is a handy glossary for those unfamiliar with terms such as 'reredorter' and 'pannaging.' This is the seventh in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, but do not be put off if this is your first introduction to the series. I haven't read the other, it had no trouble picking up with the action. An enjoyable read.
  • (3/5)
    "My life would have been more tranquil in the days after Martinmas had I not seen the birds. But I am an inquisitive sort of man, and the noisy host caught my attention... It is said that curiosity killed the cat. It can prove hazardous for meddlesome bailiffs as well."It is the year 1368 and Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff, is on the road near Eynsham, heading to Oxford where he hopes to purchase a Bible. However, when he discovers the body of a young Benedictine monk and the abbot of the nearby Abbey asks him to investigate, how can he refuse especially when he is offered a Bible as payment.He soon discovers that things are not what they seem or should be at the Abbey. When the abbot falls or is pushed down the stairs and Hugh is accused of heresy, he has only a few days to disprove the claim and find the killer if he is to escape prison or worse. But the further he searches for answers, the more clear it becomes that there are many in the Abbey who do not want this particular mystery solved.The Abbot’s Agreement is the seventh in the Hugh de Singleton series by author Mel Starr. It is a well-written and well-researched portrayal of the period. The pace is rather slow and there is very little action which many might find off-putting but, for anyone who is more interested in the historical rather than the mystery side of the novel (and I include myself here), this is a fascinating look at life in the Middle Ages.
  • (4/5)
    It wasn't the best or most novel fiction (really stretching to get in that pun), but I will probably read another in the Hugh de Singleton series. The author, Mel Starr, is a retired history professor. I lend credence, therefore, to the vocabulary he presents and to the life and times he sets his characters alight in.Most of his characters were flat and one-dimensional. But the two on-going characters (Hugh and Arthur) were well rounded. I'm sure each volume in the series will add traits until they become my friends.
  • (5/5)
    As I sit and look at my bookshelves I see all the Bibles that I own, KJV, ESV, NKJV, NIV and so on so when Hugh’s latest chronicle starts it reminds it hasn’t always been so easy or inexpensive to own a Bible – as Hugh is setting out to buy at least a New Testament and if not that, then at least those written by Paul. Of course, he and Arthur become side tracked with the sighting of birds overhead which tells Hugh that there is something dead, he sets off to find a young novice who has been murdered. The Abbot makes a deal – find who did the murder and Hugh will get his Bible as payment. I’ve read the others (not the 1st and 2nd, yet) in this series and I think this has been my favorite so far, it was truly a page turner and kept me up late reading, which kept my mind from other things. The whodunit isn’t easily figured out, at least it wasn’t for me, and I enjoyed that – just when I thought Hugh and I had figured it out there was another twist to the plot that threw us both off course.Of course I also enjoy the historical aspect of the story and the medical complexities that met Hugh as he traveled around trying to find a murderer. Hugh is ahead of his time in things like letting wounds open to the air instead of keeping them covered for best healing. Of course, there is the descriptions of food, which at times doesn’t add to the plot but I think makes the story much more realistic.The other part of the book I enjoyed was the discussion between the dying Abbot (who knew one could die from a broken hip) and Hugh about purgatory and why would we need that to cleanse us when Christ already completed the work? This of course has the archdeacon labeling Hugh a heretic and he is arrested. I won’t give away much more about the book because honestly if you enjoy medieval history, historical or just a good clean (meaning no cussing, s**, etc) mystery then this is a great book.**I was given a copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.
  • (4/5)
    3.5-4 stars

    It’s been eighteen months or so since I read my last Hugh de Singleton novel, and I have to admit, despite some of the (entirely legitimate) comments made by other reviewers, this was one of my personal favourites.
    Provided expectations are not placed too high, its generally quite good- of course there is no high drama, political intrigue, and little in the way of real action or tension, but this is not something the series generally contains.
    Those expecting such things (or a series to the level of another Cadfael) may be disappointed. The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton are a more slow-paced with the occasional foray into Medieval Medicine and surgery which I for one appreciate as someone personally fascinated with the subject.

    I personally enjoyed the descriptions of life in and the working of a medieval Benedictine monastery, some of the other descriptions of social life, the impact of the Black Death and the exploration of some of the religious beliefs and ideas of the period. The story did perhaps drag a little in places, and Hugh is certainly not the sharpest tool in the barn, but generally the story was compelling enough that I wanted to read on. There is something endearing about Dear Hugh, despite his occasional failings a sleuth, and even Arthur, his burly bodyguard.

    My only major gripe in terms of the plot-line was a serious contradiction given about the evidence of the night the murder was committed. Without meaning to give too much away it was early on stated that there was no moon on that night- and later that there was a full moon and a cloudless sky allowing persons to see clearly. This is not presented as an error, or seemingly even remembered, and for mystery buffs, might be considered a heinous fax pas- and perhaps the solution was a little obvious. Yet for all that, those seeking a ‘light’ mystery with sound historical content, or a clean read with a Christian flavour may be satisfied.

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed are my own.
  • (5/5)
    Mel Starr never ceases to impress. His 7th book in The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, The Abbot’s Agreement, just might be his best novel yet. Starr is the master of creating a puzzling mystery set in Medieval England. I highly recommend this book for lovers of mystery fiction, whatever the setting.Hugh de Singleton, bailiff for Lord Gilbert Talbot, is on his way to purchase a Bible in Oxford. Accompanying him is the loyal and physically dominating groom, Arthur, a handy person to have while traveling the roads of England in the 14th century. But before they travel very far, they discover the remains of a novice at the local abbey, and the old and frail Abbott persuades Hugh with the promise of a free Bible to stay and find the felon. Hugh, ever mindful of his growing family and his decreasing purse, agrees.There is a lot to love about Starr’s mystery series. His characters are always believable and well-drawn. Hugh is especially complex. An intelligent man, bound by the culture and wisdom of his day, he endeavors to find truth in his cases and also in his understanding of God and man. Medieval England comes to life as seen through Hugh’s first person narrative. Hugh may be constrained by the limited scientific knowledge of he day, but he makes up for it with his wit and inventiveness. In The Abbot’s Agreement, Hugh cleverly discovers the how and where of the crime, yet the who and why remain a mystery. In this, human behavior becomes the main focus of the investigation.Master Hugh is also a man of deep faith. He longs to read the Bible for himself, rather than having others tell him what it says. His study of the Scripture leads him to an understanding that bordered on what those of his day believed heretical. I loved Hugh’s explanation of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, an idea that many today struggle with as well. Other heretical ideas are also explored — ideas that still seem alive and well in today’s modern world.While The Abbot’s Agreement can be read as a standalone, I recommend that you start at the beginning. Hugh is a wonderful character and this mystery series is one of the best I have read.Highly Recommended.Audience: Adults.(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
  • (3/5)

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

    This was my first experience reading author Mel Starr's historical mystery series The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Series, and regrettably I found The Abbot's Agreement to be a novel of decidedly middling quality. If you need a fix from this genre, this book should prove serviceable, but in my view it lacks any particular significant strengths to recommend it above other newly released titles in a diverse field crowded with talent.That said, I noticed two qualities that may draw certain readers to this particular read:(1) For particular devotees of historical fiction as genre fiction, who delight in the various and sometimes minute historical details some writers utilize in framing their tales, The Abbot's Agreement is packed with information that isn't buried in the text but rather is given primary billing alongside the plot in Starr's plain prose.(2) Readers turned off by flowery prose and literary flourishes will appreciate Starr's unpretentious style. The story is told in the first-person with active voice. The protagonist and narrator focuses on facts, which he relates is short, unerringly clear sentences. Despite some differences from the modern vernacular in the language used, this is an easy read that doesn't make you work too hard to enjoy the story being told.Thanks for taking the time to read my opinion; I hope some of my observations can be helpful to other readers. Please be advised I received a free copy of the book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for providing this honest review.

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona