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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)

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  43 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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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.

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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
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
Nancy Martin
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 &
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
Veronica Sanche
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?
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
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
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
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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
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.
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
Carol Hall
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.
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.
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.
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
As with all the others, this deals with England, trade, and loyalty to the church and crown.
Amanda Bright
I enjoyed this book and its historical references to people am familiar with.
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Clare B
Sorry, I didn't finish it! In fairness, I hadn't read the previous books in the series, so I jumped in at the deep end in terms of characters and previous events, but ultimately I didn't find myself caring about solving the mystery, which was a shame. I'm also unclear why the series is called "Abbess of Meaux", as I didn't spot any mention of the fact the Hildegard is an abbess. Even if she is, unfortunately she's not quite Helewise of Hawkenlye.
I liked this just not as much as the others. As other reviewers have noted there seemed to be some oddly uncharacteristic/slightly modern behavior on the part of our Abbess. While of course humans can change and grow and we do know that the cloistered were not so, well, cloistered; this did seem a little out of synch with the times. That being said, I find this series very satisfying and await the next installment with much impatience.
I liked this, though not as much as some of the others in this series. It felt very disjointed to me, what with the traveling to London and the way the plots were interwoven (not always clearly). But, as always, I completely felt like I was in the period and the unrest during the time of Richard II was very well done. I also liked Hildegard's little interlude.....!
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.
Janet Anderson
A difficult read. The story didn't enthrall as I expected it to do from the fly leaf. Shame
Meghan Tracy
Exceedingly bland. In spite of two murders, there was no sense of urgency or tension. There is little to no vibrancy. Although it's okay to read while the book is open in front of you, there's nothing pulling you back to it in between sittings. It's kind of like reading stale bread.
Mysteries, murder and various intrigues wind their way through this mystery novel set in the era of Richard II of England. It was a time of political turmoil, unrest and treason and as such this mystery has a fitting backdrop of history. Read and enjoy!
The latest--one hopes not the last--in Cassandra Clark's Abbess of Meux series, this novel builds on the momentum of the first three. Hildegarde travels from her northern Yorkshire to London for a sitting of parliament that may unseat a king.
Jane Walker
The blurb says, "As exciting a find as C J Sansom", but that's hype, not reality. There's plenty of history, but not a great deal of mystery. In fact, I got rather lost. The characters are confusing and not well drawn.
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