Monday, December 30, 2013

Rest Not In Peace by Mel Starr - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Another slice of medieval skullduggery from the surgeon-turned-sleuth

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 Henry—with his current wife, a daughter by a first wife, two knights, two squires, and assorted servants—has 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.

My Thoughts:
Justice is a beautiful thing.  Seeking it may be ugly.”  (p. 215)

The year is 1368 and Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and baliff, is asked to solve a murder in which he, initially, is a suspect!  A most intriguing way to begin a murder mystery, is it not?  Master Hugh is now happily married to Kate and blessed to have a hale and hearty young daughter, Bessie, to come home to as he processes the murder and mayhem that make their way into Lord Gilbert’s Bampton Castle, near Oxford.  I have long been a fan of Master Hugh, and to have him suspect in a murder was a most fascinating way to begin the tale!

It seems that greed and the desire to get ahead are the keys to this murder – initially.  Then there are marital and financial troubles brought to light, and a host of people intent upon bringing justice to their family in one way or another. The plague has already cost some their loved ones lives, and loss seems to be evident everywhere you turn…all fueling a malicious fire in the bellies of those who just want keep food on the table.  Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the laws of the land between the common folks and landed gentry also play a decisive role in the outcome of things!  A little over midway through the book you have a host of suspects to consider and then another murder!

As always, I am fascinated by what is known and unknown in the medical field and how Master Hugh relies on his common sense and his gut instinct to solve a very multi-layered set of circumstances.  I’ve always likened this series to a 14th century NCIS. (or FBI or CIA…)  It is a deliberate, thoughtful pace throughout the novel, but as the clues and danger mount, the reader realizes that the human heart hasn’t changed much over time.

Another home-run-hit-of a novel from Mel Starr folks! Check out the entire Chronicles of hugh de Singleton series!! You’ll be glad you did!

About the Author: (from the author's webpage)
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren. 

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