Blog Tour/Book Review: The Monastery Murders (Stanton & Barling #2) by E. M. Powell

03_The Monastery Murders_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Monastery Murders by E. M. Powell, the second in the author’s historical mystery series featuring medieval ‘detectives’, Hugo Stanton and Aelred Barling.  If, like me, you haven’t read the first book in the series, The King’s Justice, never fear.  As you can see from my review below, starting with book two won’t affect your enjoyment at all although, also like me, on finishing The Monastery Murders you’ll probably immediately add The King’s Justice to your wishlist.

Visit the tour page to see the other great book bloggers taking part in the tour and to find links to other reviews, excerpts from the book and guest posts by the author.

WinThere’s also a giveaway (open internationally) with a chance to win one of six copies of The Monastery Murders.

Enter via the Gleam form at the bottom of the tour page where you can also view the terms and conditions of the giveaway.

The Monastery MurdersAbout the Book

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?

Format: Paperback, ebook (288 pp.)    Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published: 27th September 2018   Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Monastery Murders (Stanton & Barling #2)  on Goodreads

My Review

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.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Thomas & Mercer, and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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In three words: Suspenseful, atmospheric, mystery

Try something similar…A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland (read my review here)

03_E.M. PowellAbout the Author

E.M. Powell’s historical thriller ‘The 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.

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3 thoughts on “Blog Tour/Book Review: The Monastery Murders (Stanton & Barling #2) by E. M. Powell

  1. Another great review! Thank you so much, Cathy. I am thrilled that you enjoyed The Monastery Murders and I really appreciate you hosting EM Powell’s tour.

    HF Virtual Book Tours

    Liked by 1 person

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