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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 Ba 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?


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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 Ba 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?

30 review for The Monastery Murders

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Exigency The Monastery Murders is the second masterful book in the Barling and Stanton series, from E.M. Powell. It is a novel full of rich characters, a scintillating murderous plot and a backdrop truly immersed in medieval, 12th century England. Fairmore Abbey is a monastery of the Cistercian Order located in a secluded area in the remote Yorkshire countryside. Abbot Philip of Fairmore, through King Henry’s great justice Ranulf de Glanville, has requested Aelred Barling, the King’s clerk, to in Exigency The Monastery Murders is the second masterful book in the Barling and Stanton series, from E.M. Powell. It is a novel full of rich characters, a scintillating murderous plot and a backdrop truly immersed in medieval, 12th century England. Fairmore Abbey is a monastery of the Cistercian Order located in a secluded area in the remote Yorkshire countryside. Abbot Philip of Fairmore, through King Henry’s great justice Ranulf de Glanville, has requested Aelred Barling, the King’s clerk, to investigate a gruesome murder at the abbey. Barling and his assistant, Hugo Stanton, are dispatched in the dead of winter to investigate. No sooner have they arrived at the abbey than the death toll starts to mount, and each murder a very calculated and brutal death. (view spoiler)[It is obvious there is a plan and that that plan may be following a very popular storyline in a book called The Vision of Tundale. The book tells the story of a knight (Tundale) who, at the moment of death, is visited by an angel who shows him the fate and forms of punishment of sinners through 9 levels of torture that descend to Satan in the darkness of hell. There is a resemblance to Dante’s Inferno within The Vision of Tundale, which is an actual book written by an Irish monk, Marcus, in 1149, 2 centuries before Dante’s Divine Comedy. (hide spoiler)] Elaine’s writing is just a joy to experience and her ability to build on layers of mystery, suspense and intrigue are amazing. I love a story where we pick-up unexpected information from sources not always straight in front of you. In the opening scene, there is the public spectacle of bear baiting and both Barling and Stanton watch on for a period. This little scene was used to such massive effect as we appreciate how this was all a normal part of public festivities during that period and also how our main characters responded in ways that help build our understanding of them. What really sets this book apart, is the wonderful characterisation of Aelred Barling and Hugo Stanton. As a duo, they possess background, context, characteristics, motivations, conflicts, uncertainties, skills and dialogue that are totally unique and full of depth. Their characters are full of varying personality shades as they both contribute at many levels of ability and knowledge. Barling is a King's clerk and has a position of authority which frames his intelligent and methodical approach. Stanton is the younger assistant who is also quick-witted, able to read people very well and has a moral compass which challenges our perception of the lower class at the time. They both have their failings, which get exposed at times, showing they are human and can be wrong-footed. Their relationship is gradually maturing and trusting but at times Stanton still oversteps his position to the admonishment of Barling. In my opinion, they are a fantastic duo, much better than the Matthew Shardlake and Jack Barak partnership in the C.J. Sansom series. This is a book I would highly recommend and while it’s a standalone story, there is a lot of benefit in reading The King’s Justice, first. I would like to thank E.M. Powell, Amazon Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review. Interview with Elaine Powell at https://thereadingdesk.com/interview-...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    *I would like to thank EM Powell, the Publisher and Netgally for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.* The Stanton and Barling Mystery Book 2 reads really well. The King's man and his assistant are asked to investigate a most mordid crime committed in a remote monastery in Yorkshire. The intrigue is intetesting and the characters are well developed and and the end we learn something more about Barling's past. The idea of a team of two working our mysteries has been lon *I would like to thank EM Powell, the Publisher and Netgally for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.* The Stanton and Barling Mystery Book 2 reads really well. The King's man and his assistant are asked to investigate a most mordid crime committed in a remote monastery in Yorkshire. The intrigue is intetesting and the characters are well developed and and the end we learn something more about Barling's past. The idea of a team of two working our mysteries has been long known and used by authors and this time is not a wasted one. Also, though language is modern, characters act like they should regarding the period. To sum up, a highly recommendable historical novel!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This medieval murder mystery series by EM Powell with senior court clerk, Aelred Barling, and his invaluable assistant, Hugo Stanton, is getting better and better. I recently read the first book, The King's Justice, and this one is a more than a worthy follow up. Whilst Barling and Stanton's relationship has improved considerably, the differences in their characters still gives rise to tension between them. It is 1176 in the austere Cistercian brethren run Fairmore Abbey, situated in a remote, d This medieval murder mystery series by EM Powell with senior court clerk, Aelred Barling, and his invaluable assistant, Hugo Stanton, is getting better and better. I recently read the first book, The King's Justice, and this one is a more than a worthy follow up. Whilst Barling and Stanton's relationship has improved considerably, the differences in their characters still gives rise to tension between them. It is 1176 in the austere Cistercian brethren run Fairmore Abbey, situated in a remote, desolate and isolated setting of North Yorkshire. It is Christmas Eve, and the Abbey is rocked by the particularly brutal murder of Brother Cuthbert, the sacrist. An unsettled and unhappy Barling is sent to investigate, but he is not looking forward to meeting a man who knew him in his previous life in Paris and that the case is not subject to King Henry's justice but under the authority of the Church. Amidst freezing weather and snow blizzards, Barling and Stanton, arrive at the Abbey to be greeted by the recently appointed Abbot, Philip de Franingeham. The arrival of the King's men is greeted with hostility from the monks, and it does not take long for Barling and Stanton to become aware of the deep undercurrents of resentment and conflict in the Abbey, with many unhappy with the Abbot's appointment and the manner in which he runs the Abbey. It does not take long before another horrifying murder takes place, raising the levels of tensions and fear in the Abbey's community and further murders follow. People begin to feel unsafe, and Stanton's efforts to bring in outside help is foiled by the raging snow storms. There is no escape for the inhabitants of the Abbey and even the King's men find themselves surrounded by danger. There appear to be indications that the manner of the deaths seem to be replicating those from a book that had been scribed by Brother Reginald under the rule of the previous Abbot. EM Powell begins to reveal the background and previous life of Aelred Barling, and how he came to bury himself in the dry emotionless world of the law in a bid to escape his emotionally distraught experiences in Paris, where he was a very different man. As he reveals his past to Stanton, he expects to be judged but this merely serves to build close and stronger ties between the two men. I imagine we might learn more of what lies behind Stanton's troubling past in the next book. Powell's attention to the historical details of the time, and the level of research that underpins this series is to be admired and lends authenticity to this fascinating series. I found this a highly enjoyable and engrossing piece of historical crime fiction with great character development. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Amazon Publishing UK for an ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his Messenger Hugo Stanton are sent by the Chief Justice to King Henry II, Ranulf de Glanville, to investigate the horrific murder that took place on Christmas Eve at the Fairmore Abbey on the Yorkshire Moors in 1176. Upon their arrival at the isolated Abbey, there commence more murders that seem to mimic the story of The Vision of Tundale [an actual book written by the Irish monk Marcus in 1149]. Powell continues to develop Barling and Stanton’s Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his Messenger Hugo Stanton are sent by the Chief Justice to King Henry II, Ranulf de Glanville, to investigate the horrific murder that took place on Christmas Eve at the Fairmore Abbey on the Yorkshire Moors in 1176. Upon their arrival at the isolated Abbey, there commence more murders that seem to mimic the story of The Vision of Tundale [an actual book written by the Irish monk Marcus in 1149]. Powell continues to develop Barling and Stanton’s characters and their investigative partnership. I look forward to reading the next offering in the series. Enjoy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Clemens Schoonderwoert

    This 2nd volume of the delightful "Stanton & Barling" series is another fantastic mystery from the wonderful Irish author, E.M. Powell. At the back of the book you'll find a Historical Note, where the historical details concerning this superb mystery are wonderfully explained by the author, and not to forget also a List of Characters and an informative Bibliography. Storytelling is once again of a top-notch quality, all the characters, real historical and wonderful fictional, featuring in this med This 2nd volume of the delightful "Stanton & Barling" series is another fantastic mystery from the wonderful Irish author, E.M. Powell. At the back of the book you'll find a Historical Note, where the historical details concerning this superb mystery are wonderfully explained by the author, and not to forget also a List of Characters and an informative Bibliography. Storytelling is once again of a top-notch quality, all the characters, real historical and wonderful fictional, featuring in this medieval mystery are very believable and lifelike, and the dark atmosphere in and around the fictional monastery of Fairmore Abbey, a Cistercian House in North Yorkshire, comes splendidly off the pages. The book starts at Christmas Eve, in the year AD 1176, at Fairmore Abbey, with the discovery of the body of the murdered sacrist, Brother Cuthbert by Brother Maurice. Early January, AD 1177, after having been to the bear baiting in Southwark with his pupil, Hugo Stanton, Aelred Barling, senior royal clerk, is summoned by the Justice of King Henry II, Ranulf de Glanville, to Westminster in London, to attend him in a meeting with Nicholas, the Abbot of Linwood Abbey. In this meeting Barling hears about the murder of Brother Cuthbert at Fairmore Abbey, and he's summoned to go there and investigate this murder case in North Yorkshire together with his pupil, Hugo Stanton. What is to follow is a definite enthralling fast-paced medieval mystery, where appearances are not what they should be, and where Barling will meet an old acquaintance of his from his student days in Paris, and its from Paris where Barling's dark secret originates, the now Abbot of Fairmore Abbey, Philip de Franingeham, and in these oppressing circumstances Barling & Stanton need to be on their very best to unravel the threads of this web of deceit and death, and when they finally do so, they will in an exciting plot, one that will unfold with eventful and decisive actions, the surprising and determined killer of eight murders, almost nine, all done accordance to the book "The Vision of Tundale". Highly recommended, for this is an excellent sequel after a magnificent first outing of Barling & Stanton, and that's why I want to call this episode: "A Marvellous Monastic Murder Mystery"!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Take a remote monastery frequently cut off from the outside world in bad weather, an insular community where it’s not all brotherly love between the inhabitants, add a dash of frustrated ambition, a few secret vices and the harsh realities of monastic life and – as it turns out – you have all the ingredients for murder. Actually, no, you have all the ingredients for a series of murders. And quite gruesome murders they are too. Finding the culprit is the stern task that faces King’s justice, Aelre Take a remote monastery frequently cut off from the outside world in bad weather, an insular community where it’s not all brotherly love between the inhabitants, add a dash of frustrated ambition, a few secret vices and the harsh realities of monastic life and – as it turns out – you have all the ingredients for murder. Actually, no, you have all the ingredients for a series of murders. And quite gruesome murders they are too. Finding the culprit is the stern task that faces King’s justice, Aelred Barling, and his assistant/messenger, Hugo Stanton. Their arrival at Fairmore Abbey is definitely not greeted with enthusiasm and they find just about everyone reluctant to help them with their investigation. Barling and Stanton are a sort of medieval Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Barling is all application of method and logic (most of the time) whereas Stanton is better at dealing with people and judging character (most of the time). Together they form an effective, if at times slightly discontented, partnership – albeit one in which Barling is definitely in charge. Coming in at the second book in a series can sometimes be a problem but not in this case. Although there are hints about events in the first book and little insights into the past histories of Barling and Stanton, there’s not much given away. In fact, just the opposite. The few enticing nuggets the author does give certainly piqued this reader’s interest in reading the first book, The King’s Justice. The harsh, remote atmosphere of the monastery is really well conveyed. As a reader, you can almost hear the wind whistling round the Abbey walls and feel yourself shivering along with the monks in their draughty dormitories as they reluctantly rouse themselves from sleep to perform the religious offices. As a pattern to the murders starts to emerge (echoes of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose here), can you blame the monks for wondering who’ll be the next victim or indeed whether the Devil himself stalks the Abbey? The Monastery Murders is a well-crafted, engaging historical mystery with plenty of twists and turns and a wealth of possible suspects that kept me guessing right to the end.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bennett

    BLURB 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 qu BLURB 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? REVIEW As the blurb indicates, our intrepid duo find themselves tasked with solving a murder. This time within the confines of a very secluded, snowed in, Cistercian Monastery. Their task becomes even more grisly - the culprit isn't finished yet. The tale, as befits a whodunit, is full of suspects, motives, and frustration on the part of Barling and Stanton. The author also paints a vivid picture of the austere, Spartan-like atmosphere of the lives of The White Monks and the harsh existence of the lay laborers. It is certainly a page turning mystery, each new chapter revealing another clue, or in some cases the horrible death of one I thought might be the killer.  :-) In one of the more poignant moments in the series to date, we are brought face to face with the mysterious past of Aelred Barling, but as Eric Idle said repeatedly, "Say no more." - no spoilers allowed.   I enjoyed the first book, The King's Justice, I enjoyed this one even more.  5 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The second outing for the talented detective team of Aelred Barling, royal clerk to Henry II, and his assistant Hugo Stanton is full of chilling atmosphere, both literal and figurative. At the request of Ranulf de Glanville, Justiciar of England in 1177 AD, both are sent north from London, a ten days’ ride in darkest winter, to the remote Cistercian house of Fairmore Abbey in Yorkshire. On Christmas Eve, the mild-mannered sacrist, Brother Cuthbert, was found murdered in a pretty horrific way. Ab The second outing for the talented detective team of Aelred Barling, royal clerk to Henry II, and his assistant Hugo Stanton is full of chilling atmosphere, both literal and figurative. At the request of Ranulf de Glanville, Justiciar of England in 1177 AD, both are sent north from London, a ten days’ ride in darkest winter, to the remote Cistercian house of Fairmore Abbey in Yorkshire. On Christmas Eve, the mild-mannered sacrist, Brother Cuthbert, was found murdered in a pretty horrific way. Abbot Philip, who’d known Barling during their youthful studies in Paris, requests his help specifically. While Stanton’s an easygoing sort who enjoys ale, convivial gatherings, and women, Barling is a straitlaced fellow who prefers time at his writing desk. When it comes to their feelings about this mission, though, they’re in agreement: neither wants to go. When they arrive at the monastery, which is nestled deep into a rocky valley, they discover the place in turmoil, although few openly admit it. Tension spills out from multiple avenues. The older monks chafe at Philip’s election to his current role, the lay brothers resent being treated like mindless workhorses, and many feel uncomfortable breaking their vows of silence to respond to outsiders’ questions. Then a second murder occurs, and another. Each is creatively gruesome. This strongly plotted mystery is definitely not a cozy! The thawing relationship between Barling and Stanton, already begun after their joint success in The King’s Justice, helps lighten their increasingly heavy investigative burden. Barling sees it as his duty to impart periodic lessons that Stanton hates, but they acknowledge the other’s strengths and gifts. The final outcome, which arrives after a high body count, depends on their bond of mutual trust and is gratifying in that sense, and others. The cast list isn’t solely male, and the presence of women in this highly regulated masculine environment creates disarray that’s first entertaining, and later dangerous. Hints at secrets about Barling’s past, which he’d rather not think about, contribute another intrigue-filled layer. Sometimes later volumes in a mystery series reveal the truth about earlier whodunits, but fortunately this isn't the case here. Readers who haven’t picked up book one, which I also recommend, won't discover any clues about how that mystery was resolved. First published at Reading the Past.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I have read both of the Stanton-Barling novels now, and really enjoyed this second one. I suspected who the murderer might be, but that did not spoil the book. The character development of Stanton and Barling is intriguing, and I am looking forward to reading more about them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom Walsh

    I was born and schooled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There were two societal levels there, when i attended college: the kids with rich parents, and the kids with poor parents. I was the latter. But, i friended a guy from the former category. His parents bought him gold ingots for his birthdays. He spoke holding his teeth together, which gave him an intelligent voice. I could do nothing right, in his pampered eyes. His way was the only way, I.e., God’s way. He would correct my grammar as i spok I was born and schooled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There were two societal levels there, when i attended college: the kids with rich parents, and the kids with poor parents. I was the latter. But, i friended a guy from the former category. His parents bought him gold ingots for his birthdays. He spoke holding his teeth together, which gave him an intelligent voice. I could do nothing right, in his pampered eyes. His way was the only way, I.e., God’s way. He would correct my grammar as i spoke, especially the slang. He would look down, in the most harsh way, as he puffed on Galois cigarettes, to hear of my humble backgrounds. (“Your father worked where?” “How does anyone these days [it was 1970] grow up speaking Polish?” “You live in a row house? My father owns and rents in that neighborhood.”) yet, we were inseparable. This memory cements me to this novel’s two detectives. This contrast is brought out succinctly in E. M. Powell’s Barling and Stanton novels, of which this is the second , and best, installment. Aelrod Barling is Royal Clerk to Lord de Glanville, who reports directly to King Henry II. Although Barling is an acute detective, Barling acts every bit of shiny royalty. He is arrogant, commanding, dominant, moralistic and, i would say, a royal pain in the neck (or lower!) Hugo Stanton, with whom I identify, is the opposite of his detective partner: he loves his ale, is street smart, spontaneous and outspoken, much to Barling’s dismay. Stanton knows his way round the streets and the pubs, and is ever the victim to Barling’s condescension. My college chum, therefore, was my Barling. Worse: I was his Stanton! Barling and Stanton. Together again! If i can refresh the reader’s memory, they were teamed to solve a most hideous crime in Powell’s previous novel “The King’s Justice” (you didn’t read it? Why?) Here, she allows Barling much freer territory to squash Stanton at every level: “Barling’s leaden presence could lower the highest spirits. The clerk (Barling)would use events to question and debate Stanton’s judgements, sometimes for hours at a time. Still, even that was better than when Barling droned on at him about the law. He suspected that nothing would make Barling happier than to have Stanton in his own image: robed in black, hair in a tonsure and devoted to dry, dusty manuscripts and pipe rolls. Stanton would rather jump in the freezing, stinking river.” So, when a monk, Monk Cuthbert, is discovered dead, much to the shock of novice monk Brother Maurice at Fairmore Abbey, de Glanville and the head Abbot, Philip, call on Barling to gently, and without notoriety, solve the gruesome murder. Barling requests Stanton to join the case: “Much of what Stanton could do and do well was very satisfactory. He was a talented, fast rider with a seemingly endless knowledge of how to get from one place to another. He also had a far better way with the common man than Barling. Or common woman. Especially a woman. Barling frequently despaired at how his pupil used his blue eyes and hair the colour of newly mown hay to charm and more. Worse, Stanton was lazy.” They are complementary, in every way! That contrast, to me, forms readability of these novels. The exchange is almost like an old (namely well-written) TV Sitcom from the 50s. This novel, to this reader, is Powell’s absolute best! Her writing is almost poetic in its cadences. Her gift of speech, especially with Barling, has been sharpened since the last novel. Before, i could tear myself away from her books: with this novel, I am a happy prisoner, a captive to her lofty prose, graceful, planned plot motion, and recognizable characters, clear and with distinct voices. She makes it look easy, yet I know how difficult it must have been to steer this massive engine, this ship of varied personalities, with vivid literary style, page after page, chapter after chapter. So who to suspect? The bell ringer Brother Maurice, the strange red-haird, green eyed Brother Elias, Daniel, the lay Brother, the guesthouse keeper Silvanus, or the ever-drunken Brother Lambert? And what do we make of the cunning and flirtatious Lady Juliana Kersley, to me, a monumental creation of Powell’s. Juliana’s husband is buried in the Abbey, and she is now in regal residence in the hallowed halls? She is after one thing: to marry into Royalty. I’m not a literary snitch: read the work for further details. But, eat something first: you will be kidnapped into this lost world!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    The Monastery Murders is the second installment from E M Powell’s series, Stanton & Barling. I thought it was a great read. It is full of mystery and suspense. I was left guessing of “who done it” up until the end. I could have never predicted the ending. I am giving The Monastery Murders a well deserved five stars. I have not read the first book of the series, The King’s Justice, but will be looking forward to reading it in the future. I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% The Monastery Murders is the second installment from E M Powell’s series, Stanton & Barling. I thought it was a great read. It is full of mystery and suspense. I was left guessing of “who done it” up until the end. I could have never predicted the ending. I am giving The Monastery Murders a well deserved five stars. I have not read the first book of the series, The King’s Justice, but will be looking forward to reading it in the future. I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.

  12. 5 out of 5

    English

    Ailred Barling and Hugo Stanton return for another Mystery when they are called away from the Christmas festivities in London to investigate the murder of a monk in a Cistercian monastery in the remote Yorkshire countryside. This second installment once again delivers a mystery with twists, turns and red herrings which will keep mystery buffs guessing until the end, and a rich historical background. The last story was set in a village, this one details life in a 12th century Cistercian monastery Ailred Barling and Hugo Stanton return for another Mystery when they are called away from the Christmas festivities in London to investigate the murder of a monk in a Cistercian monastery in the remote Yorkshire countryside. This second installment once again delivers a mystery with twists, turns and red herrings which will keep mystery buffs guessing until the end, and a rich historical background. The last story was set in a village, this one details life in a 12th century Cistercian monastery, an order known for its strict routine and rules. Who knew that it was so strict the monks were not even supposed to have rich illustrations in their manuscripts? Regardless, no monastery was above petty internal politics and vicissitudes of human nature, which clearly comes over here. I also liked the way that the characters reflect their time, so that unlike in other stories this one does not impose modern ideas, outlook, beliefs, and aspirations onto the past. Well, for the most part, anyway. As before though, it bears mentioning that numerous murders feature in this story, and the crimes are quite gory and graphic. These stories are not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, but they're great if you can get past that. The characterization is also excellent. Stanton in Barling are in a way a classic detective duo: a good mixture of complement and contrast. Both characters certainly develop more though in this story: Barling now seems to have taken his messenger Hugo Stanton under his wing, and considers him a true pupil, but he is more willing to listen and respect him as well. There is a problematic scene towards the end, which might have shaken my opinion of Ailred Barling a little, but I don't think it made me like him less, and it does wrap up some of the loose ends about his past. Once again, my followers may wish to note this is not the tame inspirational fiction I usually review. Its general market, and it shows the nastier side of life. There is sex, swearing etc. It is however, a solid historical mystery in the tradition of Cadfael. I requested this title from Netgalley, and purchased the audiobook of my own volition. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Riveting! Fascinating medieval murder mystery featuring Aelred Barling and Hugo Stanton. It's 1177, Barling, a senior clerk of King Henry's court and his assistant Stanton will find themselves trekking through the wilds of North Yorkshire to a puritanical Cistercian community at Fairmore Abbey, rather than spending the new year ensconced in the celebrations of London (much to Hugo's dismay!) A White Monk has been found foully murdered. The community has no idea of how such a thing could happen. Ba Riveting! Fascinating medieval murder mystery featuring Aelred Barling and Hugo Stanton. It's 1177, Barling, a senior clerk of King Henry's court and his assistant Stanton will find themselves trekking through the wilds of North Yorkshire to a puritanical Cistercian community at Fairmore Abbey, rather than spending the new year ensconced in the celebrations of London (much to Hugo's dismay!) A White Monk has been found foully murdered. The community has no idea of how such a thing could happen. Barling, as the King's man has been requested by Ranaulf de Glanville, the King's Justice, to investigate the murder at the instigation of Abbot Nicholas from the great Cistercian house of Linwood Abbey. Abbot Philip of Fairmore Abbey had mentioned a preference for Barling as an astute investigator. He had been struck by Barling's fine handling of a previous incident. What Barling and Stanton find is just the beginning of a gruesome tale where a murderer is loose. The Abbey, situated in an inhospitable location, becomes cut off by deep snows and biting cold. An unholy pall of death and fear encompasses all. The cut and thrust of the situation and the investigation of potential culprits mesh together as the King's men find themselves flummoxed at every turn. The body count continues to rise, accompanied by sinister, half guessed at clues. Grim indeed is the outlook! I really liked the way Barling and Stanton grow in their interactions with each other. Powell paints a vivid, rather despairing picture of the Abbey and its surrounds, and the picture of the Abbey community one that can't hep but show man's frailties. The medieval flavour of the times, the daily occurrences, indeed the overall picture is masterfully presented. A NetGalley ARC

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jasher Drake

    I cannot believe that’s it’s taken me this long to finally get around to reading this book, and I’m infuriated that it did because just like always, E.M Powell has written something amazingly thrilling, thought-provoking and wholly original. This book is so easy to read! It’s been written in such a way that you never get bored and you’re always left wanting more after putting it down. Something I always love about E.M Powell’s books is that you can tell how much effort has been put into making the I cannot believe that’s it’s taken me this long to finally get around to reading this book, and I’m infuriated that it did because just like always, E.M Powell has written something amazingly thrilling, thought-provoking and wholly original. This book is so easy to read! It’s been written in such a way that you never get bored and you’re always left wanting more after putting it down. Something I always love about E.M Powell’s books is that you can tell how much effort has been put into making them historically factual, and it just makes them feel so real. Everything from the intricacies of the way the monastery is run to just her detailing of buildings, objects and clothing. It just utterly transports you to the time period and you cannot help but become completely immersed in the story. Another thing I love about E.M Powell’s writing is how she treats her characters. Every single character, from Stanton & Barling to each monk at the monastery are fleshed out like I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how she does it but she brings so much life into characters that that may even only be in the book for a page or two. In particular probably the main thing I loved was yet again the relationship between our two protagonists, Stanton & Barling. Powell really does something special with them both throughout the story and builds so much on what was set up in the previous book. In conclusion, I loved this book. Such a great mystery and such a good thriller. Manages to also teach you so much historically while reading as well which is always something that I enjoy. Thanks E.M!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    It’s no secret that two of my favourite genres are crime and history. Put the two together and you have much, if not most, of what I like to read. Add in to that an authentic sense of place and clear indications of historical accuracy, and for me that’s a winning combination. The Monastery Murders, the latest novel by E.M. Powell, does not disappoint. As indicated in the title, this is a Stanton and Barling Mystery, the second to be exact. It seems to be a cannon of this genre that crime solvers It’s no secret that two of my favourite genres are crime and history. Put the two together and you have much, if not most, of what I like to read. Add in to that an authentic sense of place and clear indications of historical accuracy, and for me that’s a winning combination. The Monastery Murders, the latest novel by E.M. Powell, does not disappoint. As indicated in the title, this is a Stanton and Barling Mystery, the second to be exact. It seems to be a cannon of this genre that crime solvers come in pairs, Rebus and Siobhan, Morse and Lewis or Brother Cadfael and Sheriff Beringar. Here too, we have delightfully odd couple. “Aelred Barling, a cynical middle-aged clerk at the court of Henry II, is a stickler for the rules.” And “Hugo Stanton, his amiable young assistant, is a disgraced royal messenger with an uncommon talent for rooting out the truth.” On the Eve of Christmas, 1176, the monks of Fairmore Abbey, deep in a snow-covered valley of rural North Yorkshire, are pulled from their sleep, and plans to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child with a solemn vigil, by the discovery of a body - one of their own. Brother Cuthbert has been strangled and much of his torso badly burned in the monastery’s cooking fire. Barely a week later, Hugh Stanton’s plans to celebrate the great day of the Octave of Christmas, 1 January, the first day of the New Year, with feasting, drinking and hopefully the embrace of a willing woman, have been decidedly cramped as his mentor, the dour Lawyer Barling, has invited himself to join Hugh’s expedition to watch the bear-fighting in Southwark. The gory description of this ugly but popular pastime of medieval London sets the atmosphere for the tale to follow. However, the first fight of the bear is just finished when a pair of palace guards arrive to request that Barling accompany them to the office of Lord de Glanville, his immediate superior. Upon arrival at de Glanville’s house, Barling is surprised to see the austere white robes of an abbot of the Cistercian order. Abbot Nicholas of Linwood Abbey had forsaken his own abbey at this holiest of times and travelled to London to ask assistance in unearthing the identity of Brother Cuthbert’s killer. Curiously, Abbot Philip of Fairmore had specifically requested that Aelred Barling be assigned to help in this, claiming he recognised him from a successful intervention the previous summer. Abbot Nicholas said that Philip explained that he had been a student at Paris at the same time as Barling. His name was Philip de Franingeham. That name stirred unpleasant memories in Barling, memories, he cannot acknowledge to his superiors or anyone. Only asking that Stanton be tasked with accompanying him, the pair now faced an arduous journey in the worst weeks of winter and an inquiry that promised to throw up many challenging questions and an extreme need for diplomacy. Ten days later, exhausted and puzzled, the pair arrive at Fairmore to be greeted with suspicion, hostility and more murders, as well as a complicated clue in the text of an historic document, The Vision of Tundale. By the time the true killer and his evil motivations have been discovered Stanton and Barling will have been pushed to the limits of their resources and Barling will have been forced to reveal more of himself to Stanton than he had ever wished. This is a fascinating and well-crafted mystery. The author has done her homework and the sights and smells of a remote Cistercian abbey are accurately and chillingly laid before us. The conclusion is well presented and the fate of the killer quite satisfying – to me at least. I am happy to recommend this to readers of historical crime and to anyone looking to enjoy a well-judged mystery. 4****

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diane Estrella

    For those that follow my reviews, this is not the typical "G" or "PG" rated book I generally gravitate towards. Historical fiction is my favorite, throw in the Medieval era, and an incredible mystery and I am hooked! The story is very fast moving partly due to great writing and short chapters. This murder mystery has a high death head count and each of the deaths is particularly grizzly. Not for the weak of stomach here! The author is particularly clever in her plotting of the story as there were For those that follow my reviews, this is not the typical "G" or "PG" rated book I generally gravitate towards. Historical fiction is my favorite, throw in the Medieval era, and an incredible mystery and I am hooked! The story is very fast moving partly due to great writing and short chapters. This murder mystery has a high death head count and each of the deaths is particularly grizzly. Not for the weak of stomach here! The author is particularly clever in her plotting of the story as there were many red herrings and dead ends to travel down. Clues are sprinkled in and unfold naturally throughout. The main and secondary characters are well developed and have interesting personalities to integrate into the story. Slight spoiler here ... At the end of the book there was a delicate situation that Stanton and Barling had to work through. I appreciate the way the author handled this storyline. As humans we are not to judge, because God is the ultimate judge on all matters. Our job is to love. Might I suggest, a layout map of the monastery might have been helpful for me to visualize the layout better. Just a suggestion. I received this book from the author but was not required to leave a review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melisende

    This is the second outing of EM Powell's Stanton & Barling mystery series - the King's Justice being the first, and one I did not read beforehand. The series is set in the time of Henry II, in this instance, after the murder of Thomas a'Becket, for which Henry is still atoning. The two are sent to the far flung Cistercian monastery of Fairmore in Northern Yorkshire to investigate the mysterious and gruesome death of one of the monks. Along the way, and throughout, we are given a glimpse into the l This is the second outing of EM Powell's Stanton & Barling mystery series - the King's Justice being the first, and one I did not read beforehand. The series is set in the time of Henry II, in this instance, after the murder of Thomas a'Becket, for which Henry is still atoning. The two are sent to the far flung Cistercian monastery of Fairmore in Northern Yorkshire to investigate the mysterious and gruesome death of one of the monks. Along the way, and throughout, we are given a glimpse into the lives of these two - master and pupil - which also provides enough of a backstory to the first tome (though I still wish I had read it nonetheless). Far from being welcomed, the two - considered outsiders - are treated with suspicion and contempt. As the investigations continue, more is revealed about the monks and life in the monastery; the truth lies in the past, and more than one secret is revealed. Great story-telling - I kept thinking, how will this end, will the body count rise, will our two come close to solving this mystery before becoming victims themselves. I love this period of history, and this sort of mystery novel / series is right up my alley.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Piepie

    This concept of a "locked room" murder intrigued me. I didn't feel "lost" without reading the prior book in this series, even though events from that mystery were alluded to. This story was unique in that how many murder mysteries I've read taking place in the 1100s. (Not many.) Toward the end the pacing felt a little slow as everybody (or so it seemed) was getting killed and I just wanted the murderer to be found out already. The "extra" information on Barling revealed at the end of the book wa This concept of a "locked room" murder intrigued me. I didn't feel "lost" without reading the prior book in this series, even though events from that mystery were alluded to. This story was unique in that how many murder mysteries I've read taking place in the 1100s. (Not many.) Toward the end the pacing felt a little slow as everybody (or so it seemed) was getting killed and I just wanted the murderer to be found out already. The "extra" information on Barling revealed at the end of the book was interesting, especially considering the time period. Stanton was a very strong character, and I actually enjoyed reading more about him than about Barling.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    A very enjoyable historical mystery, fast paced and well written. I liked the cast of characters, the plot was sound and entertaining. I look forward to reading the next instalment in this series. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC

  20. 4 out of 5

    Richard Myers

    Great book Once again I guessed wrong who the murderer was in this story. There were several people that I thought could have done the deed but as more and more victims showed up I was lost as to who wax guilty.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Altivo Overo

    Tour de force Carefully researched setting and masterful writing make this perhaps unbelievable plot work anyway. Complex, filled with twists and surprises, including a revelation at the end that I did expect, even when I failed to identify the murderer until they were revealed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    I like this series in general, but this one is just too derivative of The Name of the Rose.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    After giving the second book a chance to change my mind about this series, I've given up. It's not a bad mystery or a badly written story, but it just didn't catch me. Also, the body count is prodigious and the methods of the killings are gruesome, which never interests me. There are so many other historical mysteries set during this fascinating time period that I've enjoyed more. The audiobook narrator, James Langton, did an excellent job, and I have no complaints about the production. Finally, After giving the second book a chance to change my mind about this series, I've given up. It's not a bad mystery or a badly written story, but it just didn't catch me. Also, the body count is prodigious and the methods of the killings are gruesome, which never interests me. There are so many other historical mysteries set during this fascinating time period that I've enjoyed more. The audiobook narrator, James Langton, did an excellent job, and I have no complaints about the production. Finally, the addition of homosexuality into the story just reeks of political correctness, c2020, and that was the nail in the coffin for me. It was totally unnecessary to the story and really took the ending of the book to a low point. Contains violence and murder, no foul language, gruesome descriptions, and some sexual references

  24. 4 out of 5

    OjoAusana

    Another awesome read Always a toss up on longer series like this if the rest of the books will be as good (or with hope better) than the first and this book wasnt a let down! Theres just something i love about people dropping like flies in a good old historical murder mystery!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Y

    My father used to warn me when I was young to watch out for what he called ‘grifters.’ They weren’t drifters; they were instead those who would do confidence schemes to harm others. He said to me often that one didn’t always know a stranger, no matter how familiar they might be or how long they have been acquaintances, and to be cautious when trusting them. So imagine my surprise when I picked up the second book in a series by E.M Powell and found out how wonderful a life lesson was when reading My father used to warn me when I was young to watch out for what he called ‘grifters.’ They weren’t drifters; they were instead those who would do confidence schemes to harm others. He said to me often that one didn’t always know a stranger, no matter how familiar they might be or how long they have been acquaintances, and to be cautious when trusting them. So imagine my surprise when I picked up the second book in a series by E.M Powell and found out how wonderful a life lesson was when reading over these pages? I was happy. That’s right my friends, gather up pitchforks or prayer books depending on what you want, put on your finest white wool tunic, it’s time for a review of E.M Powell’s “The Monastery Murders” a Stanton and Barling novel! Opinion I previously had reviewed the first of this series called “The King’s Justice,’ and if you’d like to read my review, you can do so here. But to get right into this fun story, let me be the first to say that the sequel does so much with the world the beginning of the series used. Again, I found myself instantly pulled back to Henry II’s rule and time of bizarre things in comparison to current cultural differences. Once again we have a world that was so very dark in days that saw such strange lights. What I mean by that, the historical period of that time was brutal. But what I love about how the book is written, so a novice in history does not have to know a scintilla of information to enjoy the book. Here is where we find brutal murder among a place that should be holy. And why did this happen? Well, I’m not going to spoil this book for you, but I will add one tidbit that I hope makes you want to read it. In that, beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing, because that wolf is so very cunning and knows how to say “baa” in a native tongue. Once again, I am in total love with Barling. He has the same problem I do, in that he doesn’t trust who he should, but because of either a weakness or a loss of logic loop, can be confused or manipulated. I also struggle with rationalizing things because of guilt. I find that this character quirk of his to be refreshing and fun. Now, I spoke at length about Barling in the last review and not so much about Stanton. Stanton is supposed I’m sure to be the protagonist truly, but I want in my heart to believe it is Barling. That said, Stanton is a wonderful character. Something happened to him that’s hinted at in this book and the previous book, and I haven’t gone back to read the other books about him. But, even without knowing what happened to Stanton, I can sense such a wholesomeness among the darker elements to him. I find he’s fun and interesting, but also charming. There are people that I know who are similar to Stanton, they see the good in others, and not INT or IST on the Meyers Brigs. He’s likely an ESTJ now that I really think about it, very outgoing, and he does judge others, but at the same time he was honest and dedicated to his work. He doesn’t outright lie to anyone, but he doesn’t always tell everyone everything either. Yet, he’s good at what he does and can be personable. I am not like this, but I tend to gravitate toward this type of personality. The pacing of this novel is terrific. It’s not too fast, not too slow and I found no drag at all. The tension building, however, is impressive. I hope that these Stanton and Barling stories get picked up someday to rival Sherlock Holmes. I’d love to see how the observation of what happened and also the murders from this story get put onto a screen eventually. My goodness, that’d be very exciting. Let’s talk a moment about the actual story. We have a murder mystery set up in an Abby. For those of you who may not like any religious anything in their reading, this is not the book for you, but you probably guessed that by the title of the novel. However, as I read, I could appreciate the religious undertones and what I felt was very accurate regarding the religious points in the novel. I found it a fun color that the author painted with. It’s everywhere, and it’s used in such a way that a superstitious person might fear bumps in the night. The detailed discussion of bodies found are rather graphic but done tastefully. I found the “Dante’s Inferno” homage to be particularly interesting and delightful. I also found the clue gathering, detective work and “who done it” nature to the story to be spot on. For those who love a good mystery, they can write in a notebook to follow, this is a fun one. If you have never actually written down clues from a novel in a mystery, you should try it. It’s like Fantasy Football for mystery novels. You just write down the clues and who did what or where, and what their alibies are or are not. As the story unfolds, you can be far more engaged in the story and find the climax a lot of fun. These stories are perfect for that! The Author even does this very cool thing, if you go to the very back of the book all of the characters are listed along with where they should be. So if you do use a mystery book to play along, you have all of it out before you to start tracking from the very start. There is a vast cast of characters, plenty of red herrings, lots of extra clues and tons of stuff you can let your own imagination run wild with. This one had me believing the wrong guy was the killer from like almost the beginning of the book onward. EM Powell is a master of the “twist” when it comes to who did the crime. And back to what I was saying above, this is some crime. The actual killer is a grifter, in the most undeniable sense of Urban Dictionary, the type of person my father warned me about. I have one slight criticism though about the novel. There was a big “This is your killer” toward the end of the 2nd act into the third. Now just for the future, it may be a bit of downfall if there always is one of those “There are your killer” type situations in the third book because it’s predictable. It’s very “Murder She Wrote” in that way, and I did catch myself writing down the clues in my mystery journal. Though even with that “There is your killer” thing, you still have no idea who actually did it until the end. It just is I think a kind of tension-relieving device that added a lot of extra breathing to me. And let me say one last time, the tension is so good in this story, you need the pause somewhere. Otherwise, without some levity, you’d be on pins and needles for almost 80% of the novel. There always is a clue behind every corner, there is a hint in every word, and we the readers are treated to a fun and exciting tale. This is by far, my new favorite mystery series. I love books like this, and I am very much looking forward to the next one. Score I am going to 97% because it’s pretty darn close to perfect. That is a five star on Goodreads and Amazon, and yes it is worth it to purchase. I know I will be re-reading this in the future along with the first. I am very much enjoying Historical Fiction with Mystery twists, and I am looking forward to more in this series, and I may go back and read the series that this came from!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    1176/77 When a monk of Fairmore Abbey is discovered dead a summons from Ranulf de Glanville sends Hugo Stanton and Aelred Barling to investigate. In the wintery month of January 1177 they make their way from London to North Yorkshire and this very isolated community. They have not been long at the monastery when the murderer kills again, and again. A well-written mystery, an enjoyable read. A story where we also discover more of the history of the main two characters, who seem to complement each 1176/77 When a monk of Fairmore Abbey is discovered dead a summons from Ranulf de Glanville sends Hugo Stanton and Aelred Barling to investigate. In the wintery month of January 1177 they make their way from London to North Yorkshire and this very isolated community. They have not been long at the monastery when the murderer kills again, and again. A well-written mystery, an enjoyable read. A story where we also discover more of the history of the main two characters, who seem to complement each other throughout the book and become more well-rounded as a result. It can certainly be read as a standalone story but I would recommend the first book as a worthwhile read. A re-read

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Moira McGeough

    I throughly enjoyed this book and I'm glad to have found a new,to me, author. Set in a Cistercian monastery sited in a remote valley a series of gruesome murders take place. Aelred Barling and his companion Hugo Stanton are sent to uncover the murderer. The tension is heightened by a savage snow storm which means the abbey is cut off from the outside world and the murders continue. The characters are well drawn and rounded, the petty grievances between the monks very believable and the historica I throughly enjoyed this book and I'm glad to have found a new,to me, author. Set in a Cistercian monastery sited in a remote valley a series of gruesome murders take place. Aelred Barling and his companion Hugo Stanton are sent to uncover the murderer. The tension is heightened by a savage snow storm which means the abbey is cut off from the outside world and the murders continue. The characters are well drawn and rounded, the petty grievances between the monks very believable and the historical background well researched. If you enjoy crime added to your history you will enjoy this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kitchen

    I read the first of E.M.Powell’s Stanton and Barling murder mysteries and really enjoyed it and looked forward to this the next in the series. This one is set in a monastery and could be described as a classical enclosed community, murder mystery. I enjoyed it, but not so much as the first, as I found the pace of the story a little slow at times. Having said that, it is still a very good story and worth the four stars I have given it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Please don’t stop now! Still unwell and able to luxuriate in reading. I loved this book which kept me guessing right up to the end. I read somewhere that it is part if a two-book series but it would criminal if the author stopped now that she has established her main characters and their relationship so well. Please write some more!!!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I'd been waiting for The Monastery Murders to be published ever since I finished reading The King's Justice, my choice from May 2018's Kindle First Reads list. Fortunately it popped up on my Kindle Unlimited list at a time when I had finished reading a series of contemporary thrillers and was in the mood for something historical... As in the previous book the story opened with a public setting - in this case a bear baiting event on New Year's Day, 1177 in London - in which the relationship betwee I'd been waiting for The Monastery Murders to be published ever since I finished reading The King's Justice, my choice from May 2018's Kindle First Reads list. Fortunately it popped up on my Kindle Unlimited list at a time when I had finished reading a series of contemporary thrillers and was in the mood for something historical... As in the previous book the story opened with a public setting - in this case a bear baiting event on New Year's Day, 1177 in London - in which the relationship between the younger Stanton and the older, stuffier Barling was explored. Some months on from their previous outing the relationship seems a lot more solid although there are still signs that Stanton's behaviour causes issues with his mentor. Yet, there are also signs that Barling has begun to appreciate what his younger companion brings to the party and that he enjoys helping Stanton develop both his observational and evaluation skills. For instance, during the bear bating session Barling quizzes Stanton over what it is he is seeing and what it means. I thought this was a great way to highlight the maturity and wisdom of one man over the other. The pair are swiftly dispatched to the particularly remote Fairmore Abbey oop North to investigate the gory murder of a monk whose body was discovered a week earlier on Christmas Eve. Barling was requested specifically to investigate by the Abbot, with whom Barling shares a past life. Specifics of this are not forthcoming until near the end of the story and when his past is revealed, it presents an unexpected side to the stuffy clerk and I thought Barling's character was improved for it. It certainly wasn't something I had expected. In addition to this he is given a brief physical description (something that I can't recall from the previous book), which although unremarkable, adds to his fleshing out and helps further develop the character. During Stanton and Barling's investigation of the murder, the monastery becomes completely isolated due to the inclement winter weather whilst at the same time more deaths occur. As in The Kings Justice the murder count is quite impressive, whilst in this story each one is also particularly gruesome. Accordingly fear and suspicion start to spread amongst the monks and lay brothers of the monastery. Needless to say during the course of their investigation Stanton and Barling are met with varying degrees of hostility but, backed by the Abbot, their efforts finally make progress. Eventually a pattern relating to sin is spotted amongst the murders; one that suggests more are likely and sure enough the perp obliges. I had my suspicions over who the murderer was, but I was wrong which was quite obvious when he turned up dead! I correctly dismissed the obvious bad 'un but failed to identify the actual villain. This is Book 2 in the series and I am sure the inevitable Book 3 will be just as good and I look forward to exploring the pair's relationship further.

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