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The Abbot's Agreement: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon by Mel Starr

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781782641094
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Publication date: 11/27/2014
Series: Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon Series
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 775,258
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with 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 and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

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The Abbot's Agreement: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
PianoLady831 More than 1 year ago
What an interesting and unusual story! I have long been a fan of British mysteries and am delighted to discover the medieval mysteries of Mel Starr. Seventh book in the Hugh de Singleton series, The Abbot's Agreement is centered around Eynsham Abbey in the fall of 1368. It's a world of castles, knights, monks, heresy, creative doctoring, and my favorite type of detection methods - questioning and observation. This is not an action-packed, fast-paced novel, but rather a steadily moving drama set during the 14th century, and all these elements are fleshed out by a narrative that contains some profound insight. Strong secondary characters - Abbot Thurstan, Brother Gerleys, and Arthur - added much richness. The Abbot's Agreement fascinated me and completely held my attention. Master Hugh, surgeon and bailiff to Lord Gilbert Talbot, is a husband and father, with another child on the way, and we don't actually see Lord Talbot in this volume. The Abbot's Agreement stands alone, although I think reading the previous books would provide a deeper understanding of characterization and setting. These opening lines create a great sense of atmosphere . . . "My life would have been more tranquil in the days after Martinmas had I not seen the birds. . . . It is said that curiosity killed the cat. It can prove hazardous for meddlesome bailiffs as well." While I enjoyed the mystery element, this book's strength was the picture beautifully conveyed of medieval life in England. Not only does Mel have a wealth of knowledge and obvious love for those times, but he is able to communicate it in a way that draws readers in.  With a lack of modern technology, medical practice and criminal detection were greatly challenged, yet triumphs occurred in ways that would surprise us today. There's another strength as well, and that is the spiritual insight that flowed throughout and gives cause for reflection. For example, in contrast to today - when Bibles are easily obtained, yet often gather dust - Master Hugh greatly desired his own copy of the Scriptures, and that's the meaning behind the title. In return for investigating the murder of a young novice, Abbot Thurstan promised to have scribes prepare a Bible for him, in the time between Martinmas (November 11) to St. John's Day (June 24). But I think my favorite part was when Master Hugh recited Scripture passages with a dying Abbot Thurstan - Scriptures about being forgiven and "cleansed from all unrighteousness" . . . presented "holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight." These words that bring us so much comfort and assurance were heretical thinking in those days, as evidenced in the words of Brother Gerleys:  "Who will give us lands and shillings to pray for their souls if there is no purgatory from which they seek release?" I enjoyed The Abbot's Agreement very much and hope to read more of this series soon. Recommended, especially to those who enjoy historical mysteries. Thank you to Kregel for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers' Favorite The Abbot’s Agreement (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon) is a historical mystery by Mel Starr. While travelling to Oxford to purchase a Bible, Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon, and his companion, Arthur, see a corpse in the field. They notify Eynsham Abbey and monks identify the body, which has stab wounds, as John, their missing novice. Abbot Thurstan hires Hugh to find John’s murderer in exchange for a Bible. As the investigation proceeds, Hugh experiences animosity from members of the abbey and knife-wielding neighbours who had motives for killing the novice. The investigation takes an unusual turn when the abbot has a serious accident and Hugh goes into hiding after being accused of heresy by the abbey’s prior, causing a rift among the monks. It is not often I come across mysteries with religious plots that are pleasant without being too spiritual, and The Abbot’s Agreement (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon) happens to be one. The story is not fast-paced for Mel Starr has a laid-back, unhurried writing style that is appropriate for its medieval setting. This is more noticeable because Hugh de Singleton narrates the drama very descriptively while conducting his investigation. He and Arthur never fail to amuse me as they describe persons or events. A couple of fascinating observations for me were the simple meals of the folks, which mainly consisted of ale, bread and pottage; the other was the surgical procedures that make me appreciate modern medicine. I enjoyed reading Mel Starr’s The Abbot’s Agreement.
Deal_Sharing_Aunt More than 1 year ago
This was a very intriguing mystery. It was interesting to read how he knew the victim drowned in 1368. It was also interesting to read how they examined the murder sight. The author definitely knows about this time period and was very accurate. I have read other books in this series, but this is my favorite. I also like Hugh's side kick Arthur. The seem to finish each others thoughts, most of the time. The ending was good and I can not wait to read where Hugh is going next. i am giving this book a 4/5. I have been given a copy to review through Kregel, however all opinions are my own.
Moonpie72 More than 1 year ago
 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.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Mel Starr in his new book, “The Abbot’s Agreement” Book Seven in the Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series published by Monarch Books returns us to Oxford in 1368 for another mystery involving the intrepid bailiff and surgeon. From the back cover: “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 . . . An Abbot is the leader of an abbey and he decides that Master Hugh should investigate the murder of one of his novices. All he was doing was passing through to go home. He really doesn’t know anyone but that is going to change quickly. Now Hugh has to go through the possible suspects with all their motives to figure out which one of them did it. “The Abbot’s Agreement” is a very exciting book that will keep you engrossed in the characters as well as life in England in the 1300’s. I have become a huge fan of Mel Starr and am fantastically pleased with his creation: Hugh de Singleton. These mysteries that he gets involved with are complicated and thoroughly enjoyable. I think Mel Starr is an extremely talented writer who really knows how to tell a story that will grab you and keep you flipping pages until you find out who did it. I am already looking forward to the next book. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Monarch Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of THE ABBOT’S AGREEMENT by Mel Starr from Lion Hudson via Kregel in exchange for an honest review. It is the latest installment in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon. I have read other novels in the series and greatly enjoyed them – nothing tickles my taste buds more than historical mystery – so I knew I would love this story. Master Hugh is a medieval surgeon. In this adventure, he comes across a young Benedictine boy and he takes the body to a nearby abbey. The novice master asks Hugh to investigate who stabbed the boy. Of course Hugh does. These novels transport you back to Medieval England. The setting and characters ring true, with sayings, habits, and names. Nothing feels out of place or too modern. The best part is that if you enjoy this story, there are more in store for you! This installment, as with the others, can be a standalone novel; however, those who love Hugh will delight in seeing more of him and a few familiar characters. The reader is captivated from cover to cover. I highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction, mystery, and Christian fiction. I applaud Mel Starr for his ability to weave an exciting, detailed story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago