Monday, February 2, 2015

The Abbot's Agreement by Mel Starr

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 . . .

My review:

  This is the seventh book in this series, and the author has again written a great tale set in the 1300's. I enjoyed it, as I have enjoyed the whole series, though this book seemed to move along slower than the others did.

 Most of the story takes place in an abbey and revolves around the abbey, monks, and the murder of a monk. In addition to the mystery and the solving of the crime, there is given a look at the workings of an abbey, including the politics and how monks are accepted into the work, and how abbots are chosen. Although I would never be a monk, the workings of monasteries and abbeys interest me, so I enjoyed that part of the story.

  As with the other books, I found the non-modern methods of crime solving and doctoring interesting, and I was kept guessing as to the identity of the murderer, and as to the motive for the murder.

 I always enjoy the main character and his thoughts and activities, and the author again filled the book with other colorful and interesting characters. Even though it was a slower read, I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it with the rest of the series.

About the author:

Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received 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 married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Kennesaw, GA, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.

The Abbot's Agreement is available from Lion Fiction, part of  the Kregel Publishing Group.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.