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.
This the second book of Mr. Starr's I have read. He has been added to my all-time favorite author's list! I plan to read all his books. The setting in the 1300's continues to fascinate me along with all the historical background of life in those times.
The star once again is Hugh de Singleton, bailiff and surgeon to Lord Gilbert of Bampton Castle. After almost a month, Lord Gilbert was tiring of playing host to Sir Henry Burley, his wife, daughter, 2 knights, 2 squires and the rest of his entourage. All hopes are dashed of them possibly departing when Sir Henry is found dead in his bed one morning. Upon first observation his death looks to be of natural causes, but Hugh is never one to take things as they appear. He quickly discovers that the guest has been murdered in a very crafty way that would have gone undetected by most. This turns out to not be a simple case! His investigation opens the possibility of Sir Henry's wife, daughter, and knights! Before he can pin point anything specific another murder occurs and makes things even more complicated! Lord Gilbert has reached his limit with the unpleasant company and just wants Hugh to be done with it, and find a murderer so they will leave!
I was captivated by the plot. The more Hugh uncovers, the more unsure he is of who the murderer is. One minute I found myself thinking "Oh it has to be that one", and the next "Hmmm this person could be the guilty party too." It kept me on my toes guessing and wondering if the case could be solved. I loved Hugh's keen observations and brilliant ideas to attempt to flush out the criminal.
Once again I thoroughly enjoyed all the personal information about the daily life during in medieval times. This book also included a glossary of words that were used in that era we are not familiar with. They added even more to the historical detail and gave a vivid picture how people lived, from the wealthy to the poor.
The ending is a surprise, not only who murdered Sir Henry, but another very expected turn of events. Hugh Singleton is the Sherlock Holmes of the middle ages! Mr. Starr's is not only a very talented writer, but I appreciate the wholesomeness and good taste in which his books are written. You would be hard pressed to find a murder mystery in this day and time that is not filled with blood, gore, and foul language. This book would be a wonderful read for a young person who likes mysteries. I cannot emphasize enough how entertaining this book is. You definitely will want to read it! Hats off to Mr. Starr once again!
I received this book free from Kregel Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I have grown very fond of Master Hugh de Singleton. He's a caring husband and a loving father (well, at least by volumes 4 & 5, and then onward from there). He's a surgeon (which he well should be, given Mel Starr's fondness for medicine of the Middle Ages). And he's a bailiff - someone given authority to carry out his master's wishes and laws.
Oh, and before I forget, he's also a great solver of mysteries. He never seeks them out, but they seem to find him nevertheless, as they do in Starr's latest, Rest Not In Peace. I had this one figured out quite early_only to be proven wrong and subsequently confused with nearly every chapter! Starr seems quite adept at weaving his subtleties of characters, both flaws and strengths. From the wife of the victim to the knight who was Sir Henry's closest, from the serving staff to squires and so many others, Starr gives us a wonderful tapestry to behold.
Hugh de Singleton has become one of my favorite sleuths. And he believes, which is saying something in the days in which the Catholic church held dominion over all. There are moments when Hugh questions teachings from the church, suspecting they have strayed from the Word of God. And yet he wonders if one man could ever stand against the papacy and Rome. There is one point, in which Hugh and his darling wife, Kate (I wonder if Starr means to pre-figure another woman of strong character who will give great and tremendous encouragement to one who will indeed, stare down the Pope in Rome and see the Church restored and reformed) have a heart to heart conversation. The gospel is presented in this conversation in such a natural and powerful way, again, foreshadowing what is to come in just a few generations.
The reader will find, even though this is the sixth book in a series, the book stands on its own. Key characters reappear. Former plot lines are referenced, but only to enhance the existing account. So, read it and enjoy. I highly commend it.
Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff for Brampton Castle, must solve yet another murder. When Sir Henry Burley, a guest at Brampton Castle, was found dead in his bed, Master Hugh set about gathering clues. Sir Henry had enemies, more than he could count, but exactly who would resort to murder and why? When Sir John Peverel ends up dead as well, it only creates more questions and clues. A note slipped under Lord Gilbert's door, a bodkin, a blood stained piece of linen, a carved piece of wood and a bloody kirtle--all clues leading to the culprit. With a lot of questioning and the mind of a detective, Master Hugh soon discovers a murderer at Brampton Castle.
This is my first book in this series and my first book by Mel Starr. Thankfully, each book can be read as a series or as a stand-alone novel. I have never read a murder mystery set in the medieval time period and I was a little concerned about the outcome. I have to say, though, that it worked very well. It was a delightful, clean murder mystery that kept me thoroughly entertained. It had some great plot twists and turns I wasn't expecting that kept me wondering just who the murderer was. Each time I thought I had it figured out I was, once again, running down rabbit trails. If you have read any of this series you will enjoy continuing with Rest Not in Peace. If this series is new to you and you like a light-hearted mystery you will enjoy this book also. I recommend it to any mystery lovers who don't like a lot of blood and gore in their mysteries.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and are honest and forthright. If I recommend a book you can believe its a book I would read for myself. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
In a world of modern technology, crime shows and modern detective novels, Rest Not in Peace is an interesting glimpse at sleuthing in days gone by. Anyone with a medical interest will be fascinated by Hugh's surgical descriptions as well as the medicines available to him at that time.
I love Hugh's candor and wit. The reader is treated to his thoughts and observations as he methodically goes about his medical (and bailiff) duties. Being a suspect in Sir Henry's death makes carrying out his investigation just a bit tricky.
Sir Henry and his widow were leeches on the leg of Lord Gilbert's hospitality. Servants and staff had long become weary of jumping to carry out every instruction from the demanding guests. And unfortunately, after Sir Henry's death, the visiting party must remain while the investigation ensues. Sir Henry's widow seems not too terribly grieved at the loss of her husband but she quickly and vocally places the blame on Hugh, suggesting that the sleeping potion was the instrument of death.
From all outward appearances any other explanation of Sir Henry's death is a mystery. Hugh knows, however, that the amount of powder he had prepared for Sir Henry could not have ended his life but no other means of death is readily obvious. Until Hugh uncovers a very odd method of having killed the man. Then ensues the dogged search for a very clever killer.
As Hugh starts digging around for answers, he finds out a few secrets the widow has been keeping. Sir Henry's daughter also has a few secrets of her own. Hugh works tirelessly to seek out the killer to bring about justice and clear his own name.
Mel Starr has created an intelligent and witty protagonist. I'm hoping he will continue writing about more of Hugh's medical and crime-solving adventures.
I received a free copy of the book for purpose of review. My honest opinions are my own.