Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review: A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel by Mel Starr

✰✰✰✰ Medieval surgeon, Hugh de Singleton, is back in the second book of the series. Just like many of us these days, Hugh manages to hold down two jobs. In addition to being the only surgeon in the area, he also serves as bailiff on Lord Gilbert's manor at Bampton. As is often the case, sometimes the two jobs overlap.

In this installment, it appears that Alan the Beadle may have been mauled to death by a wolf. It seems simple enough. However, Hugh finds himself doubting the cause of death when he observes that the beadle's shoes are missing. Surely a wolf would not have carried away the missing footwear. It is Alan's death that sets a series of events in motion. Thus, Hugh has little time to waste as he sets off to solve the mystery of who killed the beadle and other crimes.

As Hugh puzzles out the troubling details of the mystery, he writes down every thought, detail, and observation. Everything is chronicled including the midnight stakeouts, everyday tasks that are attended to on the manor, and village drama. Hugh holds nothing back and shares both his triumphs and defeats. You'll feel as if you are right there on the manor with Hugh de Singleton back in 1365.

The Bottom Line:
One of the charming aspects of A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel: The second chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon is that it reads like a diary. Cleverly written in first person, the reader is invited to share the adventure. The book includes a map of the area. It also includes a glossary which is helpful in decoding medieval words and religious celebrations. The second installment builds further momentum for the series, and I, for one, am looking forward to the third book, A Trail of Ink, which is due out in February, 2011.

Enthusiastically recommended for fans of medieval mysteries and historical fiction. There's something for everyone, even a little romance. Note: 1.) This series includes descriptions of medical procedures and surgeries. 2.) You do not need to read the books in order; however, the second book does at time allude to incidents in the first to fill in the backstory.

A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel: The second chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon by Mel Starr. Paperback edition published by Monarch Books in 2009. 304 p. ISBN: 978-1-85424-954-8

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I very much like the Hugh de Singleton books and, as well as being entertained, I learn something new with each one about mediaeval domestic life. But in "Unhallowed Ground" I was puzzled by the make-up of the £10 paid to Hugh by Simon Trillowe. The glossary states a noble was worth 6 shillings & 8 pence, so 3 would make 20 shillings or £1. Yet the text states that the sum was made up of 62 nobles plus other coins. 62 nobles alone would have totalled £20.13.4., never mind the groats, pennies etc! Something wrong here, surely?