The Abbot’s Agreement By Mel Starr

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.