Rest Not in Peace, Hugh de Singleton Surgeon Series #6
A Medieval English feast!!
When a knight visits your castle, you hope he will sleep in the guest chamber, not the church graveyard.
Bailiff and surgeon Hugh de Singleton at first believes that Sir Henry passed peacefully in his sleep, but a thorough examination discovers clues that suggest murder. When a second murder occurs, the Lord of the Manor begins to lose patience with the slow pace of the investigation. Hugh is in a race to discover the culprit before he or she is able to leave the castle and perhaps never be brought to justice.
Author Mel Starr cooked up a recipe that has made his books so engaging and pleasurable to read. The primary ingredient is Hugh, your everyman hero. He then mixes in a heaping helpings of baffling mystery and serves it up on a bed of medieval manor life. The sights, sounds and smells of 14th century Oxfordshire exude from the pages.
The food is delicious, even though the reader never actually gets to taste any of it. Starr treats us to mouthwatering depictions of medieval mealtime in a country castle, from the first remove all the way to the sweet subtlety.
The author precedes his story with a helpful map of the town of Bampton, as well as a brief lexicon of medieval English words, both of which help create a wholly immersive reading experience.
I highly recommend this book. I received a review copy from Kregel Publishers in return for an unbiased review.
January 5, 2014
A Medieval Murder Mystery Thriller
Mel Starr in his new book, Ã¢ÂÂRest Not In PeaceÃ¢ÂÂ Book Six in the Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series published by Monarch Books returns us to Oxford in 1368 for another mystery involving the intrepid bailiff and surgeon.
From the back cover: Ã¢ÂÂIs there any reason to suspect evil in this?Ã¢ÂÂ I asked. Ã¢ÂÂNoneÃ¢ÂÂ¦but that the man was robust one day and a corpse the next.Ã¢ÂÂ
Master Hugh, surgeon and bailiff, has been asked to provide a sleeping potion for Sir Henry Burley, a friend and guest of Lord Gilbert at Bampton Castle, near Oxford.
Three days before St. JohnÃ¢ÂÂs Day, in the year of our Lord 1368, Sir Henry went to his bed hale and hearty after enjoying a long evening of music, conversation and dancing in Bampton CastleÃ¢ÂÂs hall. The next morn his valet found him cold and dead.
Master Hugh is asked by Lord Gilbert to determine the cause of deathÃ¢ÂÂdespite shrill accusations from Sir HenryÃ¢ÂÂs grieving widowÃ¢ÂÂ¦
I have become a huge fan of Mel Starr and am fantastically pleased with his creation: Hugh de Singleton. These mysteries that he gets involved with are complicated and thoroughly enjoyable. I think Mel Starr is an extremely talented writer who really knows how to tell a story that will grab you and keep you flipping pages until you find out who did it.
Agatha Christie used to place her murders in a confined area with lots of suspects. Mr. Starr does the same. Here the confined area is Bampton Castle and the suspects are Sir HenryÃ¢ÂÂs current wife, a daughter by a first wife, two knights, two squires, and assorted servants. Sir Henry is a friend of Sir Gilbert but he has overstayed his welcome by almost a month and after a night of revelry he needs Hugh to give him a sleeping potion. When they try to wake him in the morning he is found dead. Now Hugh has to go through the possible suspects with all their motives to figure out which one of them did it. Ã¢ÂÂRest Not In PeaceÃ¢ÂÂ is a very exciting book that will keep you engrossed in the characters as well as life in England in the 1300Ã¢ÂÂ²s. This is a wonderful series and I am glad I discovered Mel Starr and his wonderful hero. I am already looking forward to the next book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Monarch Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
January 5, 2014
Master Hugh, surgeon and bailiff, is asked to provide a sleeping potion for Sir Henry Burley, a friend and guest of Lord Gilbert at Bampton Castle. Sir HenryÃ¢ÂÂwith his current wife, a daughter by a first wife, two knights, two squires, and assorted servantsÃ¢ÂÂhas outstayed his welcome at Bampton.
The next morning, Sir Henry is found dead, eyes open, in his bed. Master Hugh, despite shrill accusations from the grieving widow, is asked by Lord Gilbert to determine the cause of death . . . which had nothing to do with the potion.
The sixth tale following Hugh de Singleton, Rest Not in Peace is sure to find its place among fans of detective and medieval historical fiction.
I absolutely love murder mysteries. Especially those set in creepy castles in far away lands that I will never see with my own eyes. But when you throw Starr into the mix, you've got a mystery to die for. (Slight pun intended.) Starr's knowledge of medicine, vocabulary, and medieval history make this novel ring true with authentic turn of phrases and characters that feel realistic to the setting. Even though I have not read the first five novels in this series, I am absolutely going to backtrack and catch up.
So now comes the part where we talk about Hugh. Hugh is a surgeon with a quick, careful hand, and he knows how to take care of his patients. But when it comes to solving the death of Sir Henry, Hugh is ever-cautious about where the clues will take him. He doesn't over-examine the reason why one man would kill another, but tries to find the truth out before it's too late.
The details Starr adds to this drama truly adds to the narrative of the tale. I feel that even the most reticent reader will enjoy this novel thoroughly, and will find themselves just a little wiser for it.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
January 3, 2014
Well written medieval England novel in 1368
The historical setting of Rest Not in Peace is medieval England in the year 1368. I previously read and reviewed The Tainted Coin and found Mel Starr's writing style refreshing, development of the characters interesting, educational to behavior of characters of the historical period believable, and felt very comfortable that scenes, behavior, personalities, medical practices, etc. described in the book true to the period. I base this assumption on the educational background and teaching experience of the author as well as his studies of medieval medical practices. So often historical reads are romances and filled with the give and take of the male and female protagonists. However, in Mel Starr's The Tainted Coin and Rest Not in Peace, I discovered Master Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon and found him a character of many fine points that the author develops quite well and the books are absolutely clean reads.
The story is written first-person with the voice of Singleton. He is the bailiff for the Lord's estate as well as a surgeon. Author Mel Starr is a historian by education and trade and has thoroughly researched this period novel. Included in the front of the book are words and terms to help understand the terminology of the period such as foods, pieces of clothing, and names of objects. But you don't feel as though you are reading a history book.
In Rest Not In Peace, Hugh de Singleton is called to the castle as the bailiff to investigate the death of a guest of Lord Gilbert. I especially enjoy the sentence structure utilized by the author that captures the mode of speech indicative of the 1360s England. True it is not "old English," but it does set the tone for a period difference. In the process of discovery and investigation, station in life in medieval England again allows that the gentry are afforded more leeway than the common man. Social order and the privilege of rank that existed and played a role in meeting out justice for those who broke the laws.
Singleton's contemplations are interesting and often take place on his way home as he crosses Shill Brook where he subtly draws analogies between the brook's water flow and the situation he is investigating. This is also a spot where he seems to calm his senses and "cleanse" himself mentally, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Rest Not in Peace from Kregel Publications on behalf of Monarch Books and the author for the purpose of my honest review. I was under no obligation to provide favorable comments. Opinions expressed are solely my own.
January 1, 2014