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A Parliament of Spies (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #4)
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A Parliament of Spies (Abbess of Meaux #4)

3.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  228 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
All thedanger and intrigue of 14th-century England spring to life inthis "compelling" (Publishers Weekly)seriesabout the brave, incorruptible Abbess of Meaux.

Abbess Hildegard may consider herself “just a nun with no useful skills or connections,” yet her loyalty and intelligence have brought her to the attention of King Richard II himself—not the safest place to be, when t
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Minotaur Books (first published January 12th 2012)
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Apr 01, 2012 Gale rated it did not like it
The actions of the heroine were so out of character that I kept wondering if I had somehow missed a book or two which might account for her complete change in behavior. Absolutely mind blowing, and not in a good way. What happened to this series? I can't remember an author losing me as a reader so quickly since Anne McCaffery put in the forward to "Pegasus in Space" a brief thanks to the friend who reminded her 'who the characters were and what their relationships were' or words to that effect. ...more
Nov 03, 2011 Judith rated it did not like it
Usually, it's easier to write an unfavorable review than it is to write a favorable one. This was bad on so many levels that I don't know where to start. In the previous books, the characters weren't believable, but the historical aspects were interesting enough to make them worth reading. And, from an historical perspective, this one should have been the most interesting. Instead, the main character behaved so bizarrely, that I couldn't get past it. She has been keeping a man who has loved her ...more
Barb Moore
Jun 08, 2015 Barb Moore rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Though the medieval setting seemed authentic, neither the plot nor Hildegard's character and actions felt authentic to me. I was puzzled that almost all the male characters were in love with Hildegard--there didn't seem to be any set-up for all these attachments. I read a later book in the series first, then went back to read this, but I won't bother with any more.
Mar 25, 2014 Michelle rated it it was ok
The 4th book in the Abbess of Meaux series. Hildegard has been asked to go to London with the Archbishop to discretely spy on the possible enemies of the King. Tensions are high, with a possible invasion from France, and the loud rumblings of a rebellion. Prior to their journey, a young man is found drowned in a vat under mysterious circumstances. More odd events occur along the way, and Hildegard tries to puzzle out the connections. Key items and persons from her past appear, including the holy ...more
Jun 20, 2014 Katie rated it did not like it
I really enjoyed the first book in the series -- Hangman Blind. It was well written and gave a good look of what life might have been like in the time period. I really liked the main character. I realize that I have missed two of the books in the series and this is the latest. I was disappointed with this one. I found the plot very confusing. I couldn't keep up with the political intrigues and I felt the murder got lost and was only remembered at the very last. I was also disturbed by Hildegard' ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
I may have reached the jumped-the-shark point in this series. The ending was muddy and unclear, but even worse is the tendency for every male character to either fall in love with or sexually assault the heroine. (After a while, it begins to feel a bit . . . Mary Sue-ish.) And the author isn't as comfortable as some at portraying the religious life believably (I rank Ellis Peters at the top, for the delightful Brother Cadfael books.) Hildegard doesn't seem to have any clear religious vocation, a ...more
I did not like this book as much as I wanted to. While the dialog & descriptions are as well written as the earlier books, I did not particularly enjoy the story.

(view spoiler)
May 01, 2014 Oonagh rated it liked it
Not nearly as good as a couple of the books at the start of this series, the author seems to have changed her narrative style and the result (for me at least) was confusion. The period of history the book centres on is quite turbulent but the jumpy narrative style made it all the harder to follow the plot.

In terms of a murder mystery I have read other books where that takes centre stage and even though the narrative might twist & turn the basic murder mystery premise never looses it's way. I
Nancy Martin
Feb 29, 2012 Nancy Martin rated it really liked it
This series has lots of intricate historical detail driving the plot. The politics & treachery of the middle ages adds to the drama of the central mystery of a murder. My only complaint was that a majority of the male characters seem to desire Hildegard. But after thinking on this, I realize that this fact merely reinforces the low "chattel" status of women during this time period. A beautiful woman would have been seen primarily as a potential bed partner.

Hildegard has many dimensions &
This was kind of a weird one, yes there was a murder in the very first pages, but it's kind of put on the back burner until there's another attempted one, which again, due to the long journey to London is left up in the air.
This felt much more like scene setting for the series than a self contained mystery.
The King is on precarious ground, plots abound, and for someone as shrewd as Hildegard it really is completely out of character for her to completely miss a huge plot point until everything's
Aug 23, 2015 VeronikaBilkova rated it did not like it
I like historical mysteries but this book has been a huge disappointment.

First of all, the book is really badly written.
It is boring, with a lot of dull dialogues. When something happens, you mostly do not notice it. Then you realise something is changed and have to go back to see what it is that actually happened. And even then you might have difficulties to find out.
There are too many persons/motives that just appear, stay for a couple of pages and then disappear forever. This is confusing
May 29, 2013 R.S. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The female version of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael?

A Parliament of Spies has a more convoluted plot, a lot more sex, but a less likeable protagonist. Hildegard is both flawed and fallible, but sometimes she does ridiculous things just to further the plot. The book also feels a little rushed in places but should have a 3.5 rating instead of a straight 3.
Oct 15, 2015 Julie rated it it was ok
I was sorry to abandon this book. I've enjoyed the rest of the series. But they have become harder going as the series progresses, in large part because I don't understand the background politics of medieval England. I think about how CJ Sansome manages to bring me along in the Matthew Shardlake mysteries (which I love) and it makes me believe that a good author can manage to keep the reader afloat even where the political history is intricate. Perhaps Clark really just isn't up to it? Maybe she ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Veronica rated it liked it
Another good medieval mystery! I enjoyed Clark's writing style and her characters are quite real and believeable. Abbess Hildegard is a bit hard to get used to and seems to have so many ardent admirers. And to be so involved with the spy games of the times but then who would suspect a nun?
Barbara Bristow
I think the author's editor has fallen down on the job. Obviously we don't know for sure how medieval people spoke in everyday conversation, but somehow I don't think they used phrases like "kid brother."
Apr 16, 2016 Julia rated it really liked it
Clerical medieval whodunits have been popular since Cadfael. Hildegard of Meaux does her sleuthing during the reign of Richard II and had me turning the page. I didn't work out who the mastermind was because Clark was busy pointing the finger of suspicion at the Lancaster clan and depicting events surrounding the Lords Appellants' bid for power. There was an interesting suggestion as to why Anne of Bohemia was childless too. What more could a woman want...other than the rest of Clark's books?
Mar 12, 2012 Marie rated it liked it
Shelves: hnr-review
This fourth installment featuring Abbess Hildegard is a historical mystery set against the tumultuous times during the reign of Richard II in the 14th century. The Abbess of Meaux series focuses on Hildegard and some of her loyal friends as they try to uncover various treasonous and murderous plots. The mistrust between the barons and the King are emphasized as Hildegard investigates the mysterious deaths that occur around Archbishop Neville’s retinue. The Archbishop trusts Hildegard with secret ...more
Hilary Green
This is the first Hildegarde of Meaux story I have read. It would probably have been better to start with the first book in the series, because I was puzzled to begin with by the freedom of action and the respect which an 'ordinary nun' is accorded. Reading on, I realized that Hildegarde is far from ordinary. She has been married and has born two children, for a start; and from references in the book it is obvious that due to her trustworthiness and ingenuity she has been entrusted with some sec ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2013 Katie rated it did not like it
I really enjoyed the first book in the series -- Hangman Blind. It was well written and gave a good look of what life might have been like in the time period. I really liked the main character. I realize that I have missed two of the books in the series and this is the latest. I was disappointed with this one. I found the plot very confusing. I couldn't keep up with the political intrigues and I felt the murder got lost and was only remembered at the very last. I was also disturbed by Hildegard' ...more
May 11, 2015 Kay rated it it was ok
This book was a disappointment, with plots that were convoluted and hard to follow. In a series you should be enjoying the growth of the character and liking her more, but this book was just the opposite. Her actions were somewhat unlike previous books and I came to realize that I was growing to dislike her immensely. The book was hard to follow and not a good read. Why change a main character(Hildegard)so much as to make her unlikeable? I will not be continuing on with this series.
Jan 29, 2014 Sharon rated it it was ok
This is the first Abbess of Meaux mystery I have read and it will likely be my last. So much action is stuffed into the book that it is difficult to keep all of the characters straight. There are at least 3 murders, political conspiracy,and at least two love interests. I hoped that it would all be drawn together at the end, but I was still confused.
Carol Hall
May 31, 2014 Carol Hall rated it it was ok
i was disappointed with this book. every time i turned a page i had to go back because the story jumped so i thought i turned a page to many. and then there was the lack of a clear story. mayhap if i had read all the previous books this one would have been clearer, but i doubt it.
Nov 02, 2014 Lindsey rated it it was ok
This was actually my second time reading it-only because I had completely forgotten I had read it before. That shows how memorable this book is. It follows Hildegard, a Cistercian nun, as she tries to discover a murderer and expose a treasonous plot against King Richard.
Ron Nurmi
Jan 18, 2016 Ron Nurmi rated it liked it
another of the Abbess Hildegard mysteries of the late 14th century in the NE of England. The City of London is the center of action full of politics and mystery.
Dec 20, 2014 Susana rated it really liked it
Hildegarde's life is getting more complex. I think our modern ideas of contemplative life certainly don't reflect what that kind of life was in the dark ages. this series shows that reality.
Oct 01, 2012 Phoebe rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, mystery, medieval
Just as Archbishop Neville and his extensive retinue are about to depart for London, a man is found dead, face down in a vat full of water and barley. No witnesses, no apparent motive, and a household in the total chaos of departure make this an extremely difficult case to solve, but Hildegard and Brother Thomas dig in. What begins simply turns into a plot that involves the highest nobility in the land, with plenty at stake. Clark packs her novel with politics and detailed history, making this b ...more
Jul 13, 2014 Miriam rated it really liked it
As with all the others, this deals with England, trade, and loyalty to the church and crown.
Amanda Bright
Feb 11, 2014 Amanda Bright rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and its historical references to people am familiar with.
Jul 19, 2015 Kathy added it
Annoyed that I started out with the "Red Velvet Turnshoe" and realized it was a series of books. Completely fascinated with this 14th century mystery series.
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I'm mad about the middle ages and love writing this series of medieval whodunits featuring nun sleuth Hildegard of Meaux. When I started with Hangman Blind I thought Hildegard would become an abbess but then she joined the Cistercians who only allowed women to be prioresses so she's had to put up with that. It surprises me that I'm writing historical novels at all, especially ones involving crime, ...more
More about Cassandra Clark...

Other Books in the Series

Abbess of Meaux (6 books)
  • Hangman Blind (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #1)
  • The Red Velvet Turnshoe (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #2)
  • The Law of Angels (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #3)
  • The Dragon of Handale (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #5)
  • The Butcher of Avignon (Abbess of Meaux, #6)

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