#2: A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel   -     By: Mel Starr
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#2: A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel

Monarch Books / 2010 / Paperback

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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 still had 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?

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Monarch Books
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1854249541
ISBN-13: 9781854249548
Availability: In Stock
Series: Chronicles OF Hugh De Singleton

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Publisher's Description

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 stillnot 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?

"This skillfully woven story is a delight to read. The setting is exceptionally well crafted. Highly recommended."
-Davis Bunn, best-selling author

ChristianBookPreviews.com

In Mel Starr’s book A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel, a bailiff named Hugh de Singleton investigates the death of a local official named Alan. The story takes place in medieval England (14th century). Hugh finds himself faced with mysterious circumstances related to Alan’s death, because the coroner says that a wolf caused the death of Alan but Hugh thinks otherwise. Hugh feels sorry for Alan’s widow, and this gives him the motivation to solve the riddle of Alan’s death. Later, the story gets more complicated when Hugh learns that a commoner named Henry atte Bridge also has been murdered in similar fashion.

The unusual structure of the book makes for good reading. Starr surrounds the main plotline with many cultural side stories, making the book as much a picture of medieval times as it is a mystery. Starr has studied medieval surgery, as well as English law, geography, and history, so the detail given to the story is accurate and truly amazing. The main characters are well developed, and the minor characters bring interesting and sometimes funny aspects to the narrative. The relationship between the characters of the book is complicated but interwoven perfectly. The main character has a self-deprecating sense of humor, such as when, during a dancing festival, he explains why he avoids dancing. Hugh tells the reader that when he dances, it looks like a disjointed scarecrow coming to life, and he doesn’t want to scare anyone.

The main characters are Hugh de Singelton, Alan, Henry atte Bridge, Thomas atte Bridge, and John Kellet. Hugh faces the dilemma of putting forth the effort to solve the death of Alan and the murder of Henry, the latter man being a very unpopular commoner. Eventually, Hugh solves the mystery by interesting and sometimes unorthodox methods. He will stop at nothing to reveal what happened to the two unfortunate victims, Alan and Henry.

Starr develops his characters outstandingly well. Even the minor characters have diverse personalities and interesting occupations. Hugh has an inquisitive and occasionally brash personality that sometimes gets him into trouble. He is also very observant about most everything, taking in minor details that most others overlook. The two villains of the book have shadowy personalities, which cause them to act strangely. They have certain talents that do not fit their occupations. The few women in the book serve their roles as housekeepers, but one is surprisingly romantic.

A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel left me feeling satisfied that I took the time to read it. If the book has one weakness, it is not well explained how Hugh became both a surgeon and a bailiff. Another observation is that the descriptions of Hugh’s surgical procedures are a little long winded and pretty graphic. The detail of the surgeries might not make all readers sick—I personally don’t mind blood—but it’s worth warning parents about. Other than these two concerns, the book is a good story and hard to put down. The dialogue and flow of the story are great, and the characters are dynamic and complex. I would recommend this book to adults ages eighteen and older. – Isaac Hamlin, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

History teacher and author Starr (The Unquiet Bones) pens a second medieval mystery featuring Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of Lord Gilbert Talbot’s manor at Bampton, England. The discovery of a corpse at St. Andrew’s Chapel—that of Alan, the manor’s beadle—poses a mystery that Master Hugh must unravel. A subsequent second murder deepens the mystery. Master Hugh is nothing if not deliberate; the narrative proceeds slowly and methodically, adding complications and characters. The story is detail driven rather than character driven, with a groaning board of medieval touches: diet, clothing, calendar with feast days. Starr helpfully provides a glossary for readers who want to tell their beadle from their bailiff. In an era in which religion and culture were synonymous, there’s also a goodly helping of theological asides, chubby clergy, and a sympathetic portrait of John Wyclif, the Reformation’s “morning star” and a mentor to Master Hugh. Starr pens a competent, albeit slow-moving, medieval tale. (Mar.)Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Product Reviews

4.8 Stars Out Of 5
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  1. Maggie
    Ma
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Keep up the great job, Mr Starr!
    February 22, 2013
    Maggie
    Ma
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5

    I get many books from the library but when Mr Starr comes out with his latest book I buy a copy.
    He makes Medieval stories very interesting.

  2. Cindy Loven
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Middle Ages made interesting
    January 18, 2011
    Cindy Loven
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4

    Set in 1365, in a small English village, Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff for Lord Gilbert Talbot finds himself in the middle of several mysterious deaths and occurences. A dead beadle (manor officer in charge of curfew and other duties for the Lord) is the trigger to all the mystery that Hugh finds himself in the middle of. It looks like an attack by a wild animal, only there are several things that trigger Hugh's suspicions. The beadles shoes are missing, and he has a caved in spot on his skull, both acts that a wild animal attack would not produce.

    Hugh's suspicions and nosing around nearly costs him his life, after an attack in the dark leaves him beaten and banged up, however in the light of day, it is realized that his attacker is dead. How that happens is beyond Hugh, because the last thing he heard, was his attacker telling someone else that Hugh was still alive.

    Normally I do not enjoy books set in this time period, they are often hard to follow because there is such a difference in that era than in ours. However this book was very interesting and the author was able to make the differences of times periods a non issue, without loosing the historical aspect of the story. A great mystery and a good story. 300 pages $14.99 US 4 stars.

    This book was provided for review purposes by Christian Bookworm Reviews, no payment was received for this review.

  3. Sally
    Tampa, FL
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    April 22, 2010
    Sally
    Tampa, FL

    This marvelous book is written in the first-person narrative of Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon during medieval England. Right off, a corpse is discovered and suspicions arise. Was it a wolf or other wild animal, or could it be a murder?Master Hugh solves the puzzle like any good sleuth. He notes the clues and follows up on his hunches--all the while tending to his duties as the only physician. I like that Master Hugh shares his day-to-day experiences. Quite interesting to me is learning about the practice of medicine during this time. He visits and often quotes his mentor, John Wyclif.I read the author's first novel The Unquiet Bones, loved it and looked forward to reading this second in the series. Both are stand alone novels, and you'll have no problem catching on. However, if you've read the first, you will enjoy picking up where the first novel ends as well as the reappearance of Alice.The dialogue is a delight, and the author has researched medieval England extensively to create a believable plot.An extensive glossary makes the novel easier to read. All in all, this is a delightful book, and I recommend this to one and all! I look forward to the next in the series.I want to give a special thanks to Cat Hoort at Kregel Publications for my copy.

  4. Christy Lockstein
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    April 21, 2010
    Christy Lockstein

    A Corpse at St. Andrews Chapel by Mel Starr is the second book in the Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series. This mystery picks up shortly after the events of The Unquiet Bones in 1365 as Hugh continues in his role as bailiff for Sir Gilbert of Bampton. His duties lead him to investigate the mysterious death of a beadle. His search soon leads him through many midnight forays, discovering poaching, infidelity, and maybe even love. Starr has written, for me, the perfect mystery. Hugh is a wry, often self-deprecating character who teases the reader with hints of what is to come. There's lots of period detail about life in the 14th century without ever becoming pedantic. Each character in the story is deserving of their own novel. Hugh has a strong faith in God, but he's always questioning it and himself and the way people worship, so he's discussing it feels completely natural and true to the story. Starr drops just enough hints throughout the book to allow the reader to guess at the motive and criminal without being obvious. I can't say enough good about this series! I wish Hugh a long and successful career as bailiff and surgeon so that I never run out of reading material.

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