If you're looking for a mystery or like the medieval time period, look no further! It's 1367 and Master Hugh is both a surgeon and the bailiff for a lord, so when a man dies on the lord's land he determines it is murder and starts to investigate. When an ancient coin falls out of the man's mouth, Master Hugh suspects it is the key to his death. As he searches for clues, he encounters powerful men who wish to stop him. Add kidnapping and surgery; this book is never dull!
It was interesting to see how a murder could be solved in a time period without our modern gadgets or even DNA. I especially liked learning about the different culture, including what they ate and how they lived. There's a handy glossary in the front of the book to explain some of the terms. There's a bit of dry humor at times that I enjoyed. A fascinating thing I learned was that surgeons were taught not to perform surgeries during certain times of the year because of the movement of planets and stars. They felt a surgery wouldn't be successful and even some of the church believed this! This is book five in the series about Master Hugh, but I wasn't confused at all when reading this first. It's worth checking out!
I received this book free from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.
How could I have missed this author and why didn't I find him sooner!!!! Oh how I enjoyed this book! Talk about being transported back into time! It is so unusual to find historical fiction books written about the 1300's. The setting is Medieval England, 1367. Hugh de Singleton is a surgeon and a bailiff for Lord Talbot. You might say he was a Dr. Quincy, doctor/detective of the time, but his sleuthing depended upon keen observation, intelligence, and quick thinking. There was no internet, forensic medicine, or criminal records to aid him.
The story opens with him being called to the chapel to care for a man the priest had found badly beaten. Before he dies, he utters the words, "They didn't get me coin". In preparing the victim for burial, Hugh finds an ancient Roman coin in his mouth. It is now his duty to find the murderers and bring them to justice. His search is not a simple one and leads him into many perilous situations, endangering his family, and one almost costing him his life. The further he investigates the more tangled the mystery becomes and the more problem's Hugh becomes personally involved in and feels responsible to resolve.
The character's dialogs are written in the same manner that people would have spoken during that time. For me this added to the realism of the period and drew me into the story as a participant.
In addition to being extremely entertaining, the book was a veritable treasure of history lessons in many aspects. I learned so many new facts! Day to day living, especially with the peasants, was severe and uncompromising. Even the poorest of poor today live better than these did. While nobles and upper-class citizens such as Hugh fared better than the average citizen, their lives were grossly lacking in comparison to ours today. Social classes had clearly drawn lines between them and they were strictly observed.
Hugh's interaction with the people he meets sheds great light also on what foods were eaten, how it was prepared, superstitions, homes, traditional festivals, and religious ceremonies of that age.
I love anything to do with the medical field and was awestruck by the detailed information about the practice of medicine. The use of herbs was extremely interesting. Who knew crushed lettuce seeds could help pain? A stark reminder of how little they had to work with. Surgery without anesthesia seemed a bit barbaric, but pain was accepted as there was no other remedy. I must admit that I cringed with the patients as I read some of the treatments. Though no extensive medical training as we know today was available, I saw the surgeons definitely had impressive skills. What really stood out was that recovery depended upon food, rest, and allowing the body repair itself. You had to be tough to live during those times!
The author's detailed research in all these areas not only dispelled my vague ideas of medieval life but also stripped me of many of the modern conveniences and perks I take for granted today.
How Mr. Starr combined, history, mystery, suspense, and humor into one novel is nothing short of amazing, but he did so, and with great skill! This was a book I didn't want to end. I was thrilled to find out there are 4 previous books in the series and another on the way. I look forward to reading ALL of them and any others Mr. Starr might write.
I received this book free Kregel Publ. 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 Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
This has to be one of my newest favorite authors and series. I reviewed Hallowed Ground a while back and was delighted when asked to review The Tainted Coin. Starr has me as a loyal reader. I still need to get a hold of the first three books in this series (Mr. Starr_are you listening?), but each book stands alone enough you don't need to go in order or have read previous books to follow each one.
Hugh de Singleton is a bailiff and surgeon in Britain during the mid-1300s. There seem to be no end to the demands upon his life and time whether it be for his surgical skills (often described in wonderful detail) or for his duty as a bailiff, investigating crimes which take place upon his lord's manor land. Somewhat like a medieval Sherlock Holmes, Master Hugh keeps asking questions, searching for clues, investigating scenes and using the good mind the Lord gave him to try to bring some closure to an incident.
I will let you know that not each book comes to the kind of closure you might wish for_for example, in this most recent book, The Tainted Coin, the villains are not apprehended, even though clearly identified. I have not doubt, they'll make an appearance in a future novel!
Starr does a masterful job of character development and description in order to bring the reader into the 1360s and 1370s. From the landscape to the housing, from the people to their positions in medieval society, you'll find a world of great delight awaiting you in Starr's books.
I highly recommend The Tainted Coin.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
"Men to often reject the requirements God places upon them, and rather place burdens upon other men which God does not." (p.211)
Hugh de Singleton finds himself in a very multi-layered mystery that draws characters from all walks of life and cleverly displays the many levels of 14th century society and the effect each role had upon England's citizens. Hugh himself winds up caught up between the layers of society and forced to make decisions that are on the razor's edge of breaking the law. He must sort through the burdens that are God-given and man-made and decide how best to help those who come to him for aide.
Hugh de Singleton's character never fails to endear himself to me and those who he so humbly serves as surgeon and bailiff. In this fifth chronicle of Mel Starr's mysteries, Singleton's pursuit of murderers and thieves puts his wife and child in harm's way! This role of family-man adds yet another level of emotional depth to an already brilliant character!
In addition to an unsolved murder, a mysterious coin and a rather unexpected treasure hunt, Hugh himself winds up on the receiving end of a weapon! The reader must stay glued to the page with even more intensity to discern the well-being not only of Hugh but a growing number of walking wounded!
I must say there seems to be an ever growing number of folks in this story who require the skills of a surgeon/bailiff! Yet among all of the action, the author still paces the story so that the reader is able to fully enjoy life in a small English village in the 14th century! The sights, smells, tastes and sounds of this time period envelop the reader. Transported back to a time where rudimentary sleuthing skills accomplish much, the reader realizes anew that some questions in life (and crime) remain unanswered.
I'm a HUGE fan of this 14th century surgeon! Hugh de Singleton could match skills with any of the 21st century CSI agents! I can't wait to see what he is called to do next!
This is the fifth in the Hugh de Singleton chronicles, adventures set in the fourteenth century. Hugh is a surgeon. He, is wife and child reside in Bampton, Hugh being the bailiff for Lord Gilbert.
In this novel, a badly beaten man is found under the porch of St. Andrews Chapel. The dying man is a traveling merchant. Upon his burial, an ancient coin falls from its hiding place in his mouth.
Since the murder happened on Lord Gilbert's land, Hugh pursues the assailants, identified by a horse with a broken shoe. The quest takes him to a nearby village and the release of a kidnapped girl. Before long, Hugh's life is in danger as he comes against wealthy and powerful men.
Starr's novels are so interesting because he has done much research on the culture and customs of the fourteenth century. Following Hugh, I was amazed at his medical knowledge. I was fascinated by the herbs used and the surgeries performed.
For those liking lots of action, this novel may seem a bit slow. The impact of the novel is not the action but the historical context. If you would like to know what life was like in the fourteenth century among the Lords and their subjects, this would be a good book to read.
You do not have to read the preceding four novels to appreciate this one. Doing so, however, will help you understand how Hugh got to be where he is, especially in his personal life.
For those of us challenged in our knowledge of medieval English, Starr has provided a glossary at the beginning of the book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.