Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Abbot's Agreement by Mel Starr - REVIEWED

About the Book:
"My life would have been more tranquil had I not seen the birds. Whatever it was they had found lay in the shadow of the oak, so I was nearly upon the thing before I recognized what they 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. The nearby abbey's novice master confirms the boy's identity: John, one of three novices. 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. To Hugh's sinking heart, the abbot commissions him to investigate.

My Thoughts:
Knowing a thing that other men do not know seldom leads to failure.”  (p.64)

Ahhh!  Hugh de Singleton is in rare form in Mel Starr’s latest novel, The Abbot’s Agreement.  As always, he is a thirteenth century CSI agent and delights the reader with all of his ancient deductive skills as he searches for the murderer of a novice from the Eynsham Abbey.  He was traveling to Oxford in pursuit of purchasing a Bible.  Only Mel Starr could combine a murder mystery with the dawning of individual Bible ownership in a way that seamlessly works together to capture both the felon and the heart of the gospel!  Truly, brilliant!

And Master Hugh’s sense of humor is in rare form as well! He comments wryly on everything from his partner (really a groom) Author’s spectacular snoring to the reeve’s wife’s appearance that had me laughing out loud! I love it when that happens!  I would read even more carefully just so I wouldn’t miss one of his backhanded comments!  I think his sense of humor is even sharper than ever now that his wife Kate is expecting their second child!

Master Hugh is able to notice the most out of the way details that eventually, tucked away in his memory, leads him to solve the crime.  In this novel, it is the most unusual and obscure piece of evidence yet!  Again, every detail is seamlessly woven together to keep the reader guessing until the final pages.  Of course, along the way, Master Hugh doesn’t miss any opportunity to practice his skills as a surgeon!  That fascinates me as much or more that his expert sleuthing skills!  Simply fascinating!  I daresay a broken hip was far more dire in centuries past!

I haven’t missed a single story in The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, and I hope there are many more yet to be enjoyed!  I am a huge fan of Mel Starr’s writing and am more than excited to recommend The Abbot’s Agreement to everyone!

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 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.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren. 

No comments: