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Hangman Blind (Abbess of Meaux #1)

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  708 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
In November 1382, the month of the dead, Abbess Hildegard rides out for York from the Abbey of Meaux. This is no ordinary journey—it is a time of rival popes, a boy king, and a shaky peace in the savage aftermath of Wat Tyler’s murder—and Hildegard has embarked on a perilous mission to try to secure the future of her priory.

Traveling alone, she discovers danger, encounte
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 17th 2009 by Minotaur Books (first published March 20th 2008)
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Ladyhawk Not meant to be entirely historically correct. The Author does mention at
the end of the book that while some landmarks and characters are…more
Not meant to be entirely historically correct. The Author does mention at
the end of the book that while some landmarks and characters are authentic,the story is mostly fiction. (less)

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(showing 1-30 of 2,423)
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Jun 22, 2009 Rachel rated it did not like it
Meh. This sort of stank. I love historical mysteries, but this was basically a copycat of Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death, but not so masterfully. It needed a much better copyeditor, which is kind of inexcusable, and she does a poor job of giving the reader a window into the political climate of the time, which is obviously central to her planned series. She just dumps you right in the middle of a lot of confusing detail, and normally I am the type to run straight to Wikipedia and ...more
Dec 16, 2015 Ladyhawk rated it liked it
I do love stepping back in time, especially through the safety of a looking glass that is my book. The sights and smells enthrall me. The desperation and brutality horrify me. This tale was no less thought provoking and entertaining than other medieval murder mysteries I've read.

I did find it hard to finish though and stay with the story. It was a bit dry and slow paced although there always seemed to be something going on. I'm a huge fan of The Mistress of the Art of Death Mistress of the Art
Pamela Mclaren
This is a promising start to a medieval series about a Sister Hildegard, a former lay person who travels from the the Abbey of Meaux to seek property she can purchase to form her own abbey. Along the way the Sister discovers a group of men killed in a setting similar to the execution site of a town (although not near a town) and a sixth body further away. It is but the first in a series of murderous incidents.

Well written but a little confusing -- why is Hildegard consulted on any of the things
Jun 30, 2014 Trish rated it liked it
It seems to me, in my limited understanding, that there are two types of crime books: one where the crime is massively interesting and well worked out and you really couldn't see the answers coming a mile away and you become engrossed in clues, and the other type, where everything is obvious, but you love the characters and the atmosphere so much that you don't care.
This book succeeds in neither of these categories. Don't get me wrong, it's fine. The period detail seemed to be mostly well observ
Aug 06, 2014 Marsha rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. It takes place in the 14th century (I love historical fiction) and has a strong female protagonist. As it turned out, I did like it, just not that much. Sad to say, it was because of my laziness. The book was full of archaic words that I should have looked up, but didn't, so I just skipped over them. Additionally, much of the plot was based on historical events that were not explained very well but referred to often: the rivalry between Pope Urban in Rome and P ...more
The author refers to a "flock of carrion" and seems to think "carrion" is a synonym for "crows."

The woods "were bristling with the sound of falling water."

"His body was not yet fixed in the rigour of death and she was able to prise his fingers apart one by one. Giving up what had been grasped so fiercely at hte moment of death, his fingers softly opened."

These things do not make sense. They really don't.


I bailed out early.
Apr 14, 2016 Jane rated it it was ok
So-so. But I don't understand how a nun could travel by herself, even with her dogs. I thought they had to travel in pairs.
Saoirse Sterling
You can read my full review of Hangman Blind on my site XLeptodactylous.

Hildegard, a nun in 14th Century England travels through Yorkshire to find a grange to start her own house of nuns with money left from a deceased husband. She has contacts to the West, but on her way there she finds hanged men and a mutilated boy and finds that the danger and horror doesn't stop once she reaches her old home.

I am not a historical fiction reader, but I am wanting to try all sorts of genres so I took the plun
Nov 26, 2011 Irene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in the past.
I bought this book for the simple reason that, having won the second in the series from a Goodreads Giveaway, I felt it would be much fairer to read this first book first.

The story of "Hangman Blind" is set in Yorkshire, which I know a little about, at a time I know not much about at all. I had heard of the Peasants' Revolt, John Wyclif and Wat Tyler, but only briefly in passing. I'm not generally interested in politics, so I wasn't sure whether this tale was going to be my cup of tea after all.
Elizabeth K.
Jul 21, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-new-reads
This was not bad at all, although I had some quibbles.

Overall, a decent medieval England mystery, with a Cistercian nun playing the role of our investigator. She becomes entangled with a series of mysterious deaths at a Yorkshire castle while she is visiting in hopes of securing a donation for a new abbey from its lord. It moves quite nicely and the characters are as interesting as they need to be. I liked that the author assumes we all share a basic familiarity with the events the Peasant's Reb
Jul 23, 2012 kelly rated it it was ok
Two and a half stars. It moved along plot-wise at a decent pace. I enjoyed the cast of characters, though I found some of the minor characters incredibly difficult to keep straight. This made following the whodunnit and big reveal kind of confusing. I didn't particularly identify with Hildegard or really get a sense of her personality (and if I had to read that she shivered one more time...). I liked that the mystery was fairly true to historical accuracy in terms of methods, but I thought the p ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This is the first entry in Cassandra Clark's Abbess of Meaux series of mysteries, and I think I liked this one a bit better than the second. I preferred the way the story stayed in a relatively tight locale, so there was a chance for more development of secondary characters. I also enjoyed the friendship that developed between Hildegard and Hubert de Courcy, with its undercurrent of guilt and political mistrust. I miss the more overt spirituality of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael stories, but at ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Julie rated it really liked it
This is a fine historical mystery. First in a series. Medieval Britain. The politics are quite complicated and I kept losing track. Two popes--one in Avignon and one in Rome. And then you've got Saxons and Normans. Plus the people who were there before either the Saxons or the Normans. And I'm not sure how popes lined up with Norman/Saxon or what. Still, it seemed not to matter. Protagonist is a strong woman--widowed, with property so a nun. The depiction of life is pretty vivid. I am glad not t ...more
Apr 18, 2013 Jules rated it liked it
I've debated about my review. I thought this book might be perfect for my sister and I knew it was a mystery so I chose a nice warm bright day. It wasn't scary but was very intriguing. It took me a bit to get into the story trying to get my bearings in the time period, but once I did I was very hooked. It was also pretty violent which is unfortunately true to the medieval era. If you liked Ivanhoe by Walter Scott and love a good intrigue this is the book for you. I'll be reading the rest of the ...more
Nov 06, 2014 henrys-axe rated it really liked it
Another medieval historical fiction novel taking place in 14th century England. Each of the authors within this sub-genre delves into a particular niche of society in which to concentrate his or her efforts. It soon becomes apparent that life in this era was difficult in so much more than just day to day survival. The various plots and intrigues to unseat monarchs, the power and inflexibility of the Church, the squalor of the few towns and cities that existed, all create an image of instability ...more
Mar 06, 2012 Renee rated it it was amazing
HANGMAN BLIND is a well-researched historical mystery. There are many threads to follow: multiple murders and attempts at murder, insurrection, castle plotting, church plotting, and so on. It's a complicated story-line that manages to come round sensically in the end. This is also a promising set-up to a series with the end leaving the possibilities for Hildegarde, our heroine, wide open. And history tells us her times only became more interesting.
Feb 26, 2016 Mantelli rated it it was ok
I love a good historical novel, but I found this one heavy going, largely due to her use of archaic words. Perhaps in an attempt at authentic flavor, she uses a lot of them, and it's often difficult to divine their meanings from their context. I've spent more time Googling and using the online OED while reading this book than any I can think of for a long time. Aside from the medievalists and specialist SCA folk among you, who knows about assarts, regrators, and burnet fabric? There was no gloss ...more
Susan in NC
Feb 05, 2014 Susan in NC rated it liked it
Really 3.5-4 stars, I enjoyed this debut medieval mystery and found a lot to like about Sister Hildegard - she's got the brains and snark of Dame Frevisse with the brains and natural leadership ability of Prioress Eleanor, plus, as a widow, she's got Eleanor's earthy feelings for the handsome men around her but actually knows what she's missing out on! This gives her additional poignancy, I felt; she appears to have loved her husband Hugh and still misses him after seven years in a hermitage. Sh ...more
Wendy Hines
Jun 19, 2013 Wendy Hines rated it liked it
Recently widowed, Hildegard is left with a handsome fortune. Wanting to put her new unexpected wealth to good use, she decides she would like to set up her own house of nuns. There, she could teach the young and tend the sick. She already has the support of her prioress, but she still needs the support of the Abbot of Meaux. Without it, her new purpose in life won't become a reality.

However, on her travels to Meaux to see the Abbot, accompanied by her two canine companions, Hildegard comes upon
Mar 05, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it
Set in England in the later 1300's, Sister Hildegard lives in a precarious time. After the death of her husband, she has sufficient funds to establish herself as a Cistercian nun, and plans on setting up her own small religious house, if she can find a suitable location and recruit a small number of woman to join her. She is sent by her abbess to York to visit the Abbot at the Abbey of Meux. In addition to her own mission, she is asked by the abbess to assess the political situation there and fi ...more
Brooke Hembree
It took several tries to actually finish this book. I think that I started reading the book about a year ago and only managed to get through it by forcing myself. I assumed that this would be a low rating. However, about three-quarters in, it started getting really interesting. The problem with the book was that there were too many characters and too many plot lines and that made it harder to get into the story. The first issue is common in a lot of first books in a series. The author has to int ...more
Jun 02, 2013 Krystal rated it liked it
I didn't exactly fall in love with this book, but I couldn't seem to put it down.

The main character is a fascinating person, and I did really enjoy her. But the writing style was a bit ... not sure how to put it. Rambling? There were parts that ran together too easily; there were parts that seemed to come out of nowhere; there were parts that didn't seem to get fleshed out enough ... it made for a bit of a strange read. All the plot points just seemed to blur together. Several seemingly unnecess
Wisteria Leigh
Dec 27, 2008 Wisteria Leigh rated it really liked it
HANGMAN BLIND[return]Cassandra Clark, Minotaur Books, 2008, $24.95/C$27.95,pb,320pp, 978-0-312-53730-2[return][return]In the year 1382, England emerges from violent religious rebellion into precarious peace. It is during this time, Hildegard, recently widowed, and financially wealthy, becomes a Cistercian nun at the Abbey of Meaux. Her grief is deep and her husband s death a mystery. It is here she discovers her life s purpose: to set up a priory to help care for the sick, poor and homeless. Eve ...more
In November of 1382 Hildegard is dispatched from the priory of Swyne to the city of York with a letter for its archbishop and a mission to try and secure permission to establish a priory of her own. In the forest between York and the abbey of Meaux she stumbles across five corpses hanging on a gibbet and then another body; a young man brutally murdered, his throat cut, stomach slashed and guts spilled. It is just over a year since the Peasant's Rebellion and its brutal aftermath, so the fact tha ...more
Val Sanford
Hangman Blind is a captivating tale set in the aftermath of the unsuccessful Peasant's Revolt and execution of Wat Tyler. Religious schisms, failed uprisings, war and more war, and the fragile rule of Richard II are a perfect backdrop for greed, lust, pride and arrogance; the seven deadly sins rack up a few bodies in this series debut.

Clark introduces us to Sister Hildegard and the religious challenges of three Popes! She explores the raw reality of war and conflict, bringing the the trauma, fe
I certainly enjoyed this novel set in 14th Century Yorkshire and took a liking to its main character, Hildegaard, a recently widowed woman who has become a Cistercian nun and has decided to use the legacy left to her by her husband to found a small house of nuns. Her quest is to find a suitable location and while doing so she is drawn into the complexity of the relationships at her childhood home. I was a unclear as to who, if anyone, she was related to as while she was addressed as 'sister' I a ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Spuddie rated it it was amazing
#1 Abbess of Meaux historical mystery set in early 1380's York. Sister Hildegard, a Cistercian nun and a widow with an inheritance to spend, hopes to procure property from a local lord, Roger de Hutton. She grew up in the area and knew Roger and his family before taking the veil, and being out of the cloister for the first time in seven years and back on familiar ground leaves her with mixed emotions.

Things are tense, with many disputes between the serfs, mostly Saxons, and their Norman manor l
Jan 15, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
I liked the book well enough as a mystery, and I found it pleasant that the characters were distinguishable to me, as opposed to the standard historical mystery protagonist. I'm not sure it did anything too interesting with the historical setting, but I'm also not sure it needed that. My primary complaint is that there was a gendered violence plotline that wasn't needed and seemed to exist entirely to ensure the readers see the villain as dangerous and the female protagonist as in danger.
Oct 29, 2011 Judith rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting, and the author conveys much of the history of the period as well as the way people lived then without falling into lecture mode. She made the setting feel as immediate as if the events had taken place last week. Having said that, I did have one problem with the book and that was the lack of religion. Not that I particularly want to read a religious book, but since the main character is a nun and much of the book takes place in a monast ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Edelweiss rated it liked it
It appeared fairly accurate, from what little I know of the time period. I enjoyed it, but there is not much to say beyond that it was a decent period mystery, with some well drawn characters who (view spoiler)
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 22, 2015 10:01AM  
  • Wine of Violence (Medieval Mystery, #1)
  • Remedy For Treason (Chronicles Of Issac Of Girona, #1)
  • My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries, #1)
  • A Shrine of Murders (Kathryn Swinbrooke, #1)
  • Veil of Lies (Crispin Guest, #1)
  • Fortune Like the Moon (Hawkenlye Mysteries, #1)
  • The Nightingale Gallery (Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, #1)
  • Death and the Chapman (Roger the Chapman, #1)
  • A Mortal Bane (Magdalene La Batarde, #1)
  • The Alehouse Murders (Templar Knight Mystery, #1)
  • The Cavalier of the Apocalypse (Aristide Ravel, #1)
  • The Rhetoric of Death
  • Goodnight Sweet Prince (Lord Francis Powerscourt, #1)
  • To Shield the Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #1)
  • A Dissection of Murder (Dr Dody McCleland, #1)
  • Absolution by Murder (Sister Fidelma, #1)
  • The Unquiet Bones (Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon Chronicles #1)
  • The Sanctuary Seeker (Crowner John Mystery #1)
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 (7 books)
  • The Red Velvet Turnshoe (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #2)
  • The Law of Angels (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #3)
  • A Parliament of Spies (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #4)
  • The Dragon of Handale (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #5)
  • The Butcher of Avignon (Abbess of Meaux, #6)
  • The Scandal of the Skulls (Abbess of Meaux, #7)

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