Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Corpse at St Andrews Chapel (The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #2) by Mel Starr

My thoughts: When venturing into the pages of a Mel Starr novel, one steps into medieval England in the mid 1300s. Thoroughly enjoy these sojourns in the villages and across Shill Brook with the incomparable Hugh de Singleton Surgeon and bailiff of Lord Gilbert's estate and village. For those unfamiliar, Master Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon  a character of many fine points that the author develops quite well. Singleton is Oxford educated and medically read and trained. He is friend of John Wycliffe (Bible Translator). He is not married, though he longs for the comfort and warmth of a wife.

The story is written first-person with the voice of Singleton. Author Mel Starr is a historian by education and trade and has thoroughly research this series of period novels. Included in the front of the book are words and terms to help understand the terminology of the period. But you don't feel as though you are reading a history book. As Hugh de Singleton rides Bruce, the horse given him to use about the village and castle's business, he ponders the varied events that he must resolve and charge the culprits for the poaching and murders that trouble his village.

The story takes the reader through the mental exercises, daily treks and journeys, meals of loaves of bread and ale and pieces of meat taken cold because he missed meal time. Mel Starr writes with ease and knowledge about the life and times and the status of different folk. How each person's job or status determined the lodging and even the quantity, frequency, and types of food they are able to eat.The reader will gain an appreciation for the laws of the period about ownership, poaching, curfews, and simple rights or lack of rights. You grasp the social order and the privilege of rank that exists.

Singleton is trying to solve multiple murders and poaching that occurred on his Lord's estate and in going about this, his skills as a detective/bailiff are used but also his knowledge, and "cutting edge" opinions and skills as a surgeon.

I began this series in the middle and have now read six of the books. I had to go back and start with the first book. I found Starr's style different and refreshing. It was interesting to read this period book and I felt that I could trust Starr's interpretation of the customs of the time.

About the book: Alan, the beadle of the manor of Bampton, had gone out at dusk to seek those who might violate curfew. When, the following morning, he had still not returned home, his young wife Matilda sought out Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of the manor.

Two days later Alan's corpse is discovered in the hedge, at the side of the track to St. Andrew's Chapel. His throat has been torn out, his head half-severed from his body and his face, hands, and forearms lacerated with deep scratches.

Master Hugh, meeting Hubert the coroner at the scene, listens carefully to the coroner surmise that a wolf had caused the great wound. And yet . . . if so, why is there so little blood?

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of A Corpse at St. Andrews Chapel from Kregel Publishing on behalf of the author for the purpose of my honest review. I was under no obligation to provide favorable comments. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

1 comment:

  1. I've had this series on my TBR list for a while now but still haven't had a chance to read them with all the reviewing I'm doing. I don't know how you keep up! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!


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