Monday, February 1, 2016

Ashes to Ashes: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton by Mel starr

ISBN 9781782641339
$14.99 | Paperback
Lion Fiction
My thoughts: I have thoroughly enjoyed each of my journeys into the 1300s in the company of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon and Baliff. The author, Mel Starr, has a unique style that reads easily; and the prose and droll humor of Singleton makes this reader readily visualize characters as they engage one another and traipse along the countryside solving the mystery and crime of the moment.

Not being encumbered with the fast pace and "stuff" of today's world, Hugh de Singleton thinks deeply and lucidly. Life is more simple in the 1300s than in the year 2015, but the stuff of good and evil still abounds even in the slower pace of life. Men are still evil and some are good.

The church features prominently in the story in that it was prominent in everyone's life, especially in small villages, during medieval times. This is reflected in the heart and mind of Singleton.

Singleton rides his Palfrey (definition: a riding horse with a comfortable gait), eats his maslin loaf or his wheaten loaf (breads of the day), and ends the day sitting in his toft (area around his house planted with vegetables) with his wife whom he loves. And he practices his skills as a professionally (Paris) trained surgeon in addition to seeing that the laws of the village and land are adhered to.

I like that events generate moments of deeper pondering to Singleton. Throughout Ashes to Ashes, as in each of his other books, he frequently crosses Shill Brook at which he pauses and ponders.

"I left Arthur and the palfreys at the castle and walked to Galen House [Singleton's home]. Again I stopped at Shill Brook to gaze into the stream. The psalmist has told men that they should "Be still and know that I am God." I admit that in the busyness of the day, I had not considered Him nor sought guidance of the Lord Christ. I amended the fault there upon the bridge."

Singleton is skilled as a Surgeon but he is equally skilled at deduction and detective work ferreting out wrong doers and bringing them to justice.

It is always a please to read Mel Starr's Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton.

About the book: The morning after the festivities of Midsummer's Eve, the villagers of Bampton make a grisly discovery

Master Hugh, Kate, and their children attend the Midsummer’s Eve fire. The next morning Hugh hears the passing bell ring from the Church of St. Beornwald, and moments later is summoned. Tenants collecting the ashes to spread upon their fields have found burned bones.

Master Hugh learns of several men of Bampton and nearby villages who have gone missing recently. Most are soon found, some alive, some dead. Master Hugh eventually learns that the bones are those of a bailiff from a nearby manor. Someone has slain him and placed his body in the fire to destroy evidence of murder.

Bailiffs are not popular men; they dictate labor service, collect rents, and enforce other obligations. Has this bailiff died at the hand of some angry tenant? Hugh soon discovers this is not the case. There is quite another reason for murder . .

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Ashes to Ashes from Kregel to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

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