(Review) The Monastery Murders: A Stanton and Barling Mystery by E.M. Powell

 

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02_The Monastery Murders

Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas & Mercer. September 27, 2018.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Series: Stanton and Barling #2.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Readers of mystery books and medieval history.

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Summary:
Their lives are ones of quiet contemplation—and brutal murder.
Christmas Eve, 1176. Brother Maurice, monk of Fairmore Abbey, awaits the night prayer bell. But there is only silence. Cursing his fellow brother Cuthbert’s idleness, he seeks him out—and in the darkness, finds him brutally murdered.
Summoned from London to the isolated monastery on the Yorkshire Moors, Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his messenger Hugo Stanton, set about investigating the horrific crime. They quickly discover that this is far from a quiet monastic house. Instead, it seethes with bitter feuds, rivalries and resentments. But no sooner do they arrive than the killer strikes again—and again.
When Barling discovers a pattern to these atrocities, it becomes apparent that the murderer’s rampage is far from over. With everyone, including the investigators, now fearing for their lives, can Barling and Stanton unmask the culprit before more blood is spilled?

03_E.M. Powell

About the author:
E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.
Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.
Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Thoughts:
Early in the book there is a story about a bear being attacked by dogs. This was a source of entertainment for the townspeople: a bear being attacked by dogs in a pit. It’s not that I like this sort of thing, but it is an ingenious sub-story. This event gave me a perspective of that era. Their type of entertainment and sport was bear-baiting. This leads me to my first reason for liking this book: The Monastery Murders gave me a strong view of life in 1176 in North Yorkshire, England.
The mystery of the book is deaths that take place in a monastery. A monastery is not the sort of place where gruesome murders are committed. And, all of this begins at Christmas time. So, the opposite of what I’d expect in a murder case is turned upside down by the date and place. I like this unexpected aspect of the story.
Hugo Stanton and Aelred Barling are the two men who work together to solve the murders. Barling is a senior clerk in the court of King Henry. Stanton is a messenger with the law court. They’d solved a case several months ago (this must have been in book one.) Stanton is the pupil of Barling. Stanton is a younger and handsomer man. Stanton has charm and is a physical type man. Whereas, Barling is described as “pale skin” and “thin face.” Barling comes across to me as a brooding, secretive type man. Later in the story a personal mystery about Barling will be revealed that explained my suspicions.
I enjoyed reading The Monastery Murders, but was not swept up in the story as I’d liked, and this is why I gave the book a good rating.

 

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