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4.7 out of 5 stars30
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 December 2013
Unexpectedly intriguing and captivating. If you like historical fiction rooted in fact, this could be the author for you. Found it difficult to stop reading!
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on 19 February 2014
Although the solution to the murder took Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff at Brampton Castle, a little while to discover, the slow pace of the tale somehow made the whole experience more enjoyable, and drew me into the rural world as it was in 1368. What is specially interesting is the background detail, not so much the names for the various dishes served up (having to keep referring to the glossary distracted from the story, and I felt I could have happily read that Kate was preparing what was effectively scrambled egg with onions, without needing to know it was called 'hanoney'), but the references to the 'Statute of Labourers', with its legal ramifications and financial penalties, imposed by those whose interests it served, but evaded wherever possible by the labourers themselves, and ignored by those landowners who, desperate for workers, would pay well above the statutory limit. We tend to 'know' about the downtrodden peasants, but this really brought the situation home.

Apart from Hugh spending much time eating, contemplating the river from the bridge, and enjoying his well-portrayed family of Kate and his baby daughter Bessie, he does a lot of thinking, a little moralising, and shows a great awareness of other people of all degrees. His ability to sway officials away from automatically fixing the blame on the first suspect, imprisoning him, and relying on time in a dungeon or on the rack to force a confession, is impressive, and I find I really like Hugh de Singleton, and the whole community based around the castle. It's just that I'll now have to wait until summer to find out what happens next, after the bad news at the end of the story.
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on 3 October 2013
he knows his background so well that though the genre is murder fiction it is educational. this is the 5th book of his that i have read. the last four were preordered.
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on 23 April 2014
I picked up this book as a review copy but it has taken me a while to get round to reading it. I don't think I missed much.

Hugh is a surgeon and bailiff working in Oxfordshire. When a visitor to his lord dies overnight, Hugh's preliminary investigations indicate murder. The story revolves around an impoverished noble family and revenge for family who were dealt hard blows in poverty.

The background detail is very good and the glossary very useful but the problem is the story. It's engaging enough but just wraps up too neatly at the end and some clues were not finalised.

An amusing and short distraction but not a book to remember or relish.
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on 14 October 2013
I confess that I am a fan of Hugh de Singleton and therefore Mel Starr. My daughter bought me my first "Hugh" book way back when the first one was published, several years ago, as part of my Christmas present and I am amongst the first in the queue each year for the next instalment of our hero's adventures. Keep them coming Mel - I will have withdrawal symptoms if you stop, I am sure.
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on 14 October 2013
Yet another great book from the pen of Mel Starr and I am now looking forward to finding out who sent the novice, John Whytyng to meet his maker!
And I appreciate the glossary at the front of the books too, even if my scrabble opponent doesn't!
My only disappointment is that the height of the book has changed, so the latest in the set looked as though the mice have been at it.
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on 27 February 2014
I think Mel's later books are a little "thin" compared with Unquiet Bones *****. There was much historical information about the life and customs of the time in the first book and a well conceived story story. I was inspired to write to him after that and my comment was published in his second book. They are now becoming routine. Worth a read still if you like the genre.
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on 23 January 2015
Another well written story of a medieval doctor who gets caught up in disputes and murder between the Lord of the area and the lowly ordinary people trying to make a living in times of upheaval. Also very interesting to read of the medical procedures at that time
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on 29 May 2014
Another fantastic read. Only one small criticism, the format was smaller (was it also shorter?) So, as a set on the shelf; it looks somewhat shrunken! Nevertheless, I read it with the same relish as his earlier books. Keep up the good work Mel.
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on 15 October 2013
Another case for Hugh de Singleton. Historically accurate, funny in parts and another success for Mel Starr. Detecting in the Middle Ages is a popular genre right now and Mel Starr has delivered another good one.
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