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Book Review: Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon

The Hugh de Singleton series are set in the Middle Ages in Bampton (of Downton Abbey fame) and Oxford in the UK and written from the point of view of a surgeon and bailiff by the name of Hugh de Singleton.  These are mystery novels that will keep you guessing until the end, but at the same time they aren't intense heart-pounding mysteries.  A lot of the action is really just Hugh de Singleton sharing his thoughts with us. the readers.  That may sound boring, but since Hugh de Singleton isn't a boring person, neither is his thinking.

I've never been big on reading books set in the Middle Ages.  It's just not a time period that intrigues me, mainly because most of what I've read is all about knights and wars and I find that boring.  But I think the fact that the author really knows what he's talking about makes these books different.

The author, Mel Starr, has an MA in history and taught history in public schools for 39 years.  This is important to note because Mr. Starr does a great job of avoiding anachronisms in his writing.  The books seem to be true to the era in which they take place.  In an interview which you can read here, Mr. Starr is asked "What do you most hope readers will get from reading your work?"  His answer is, "I hope they will learn something of life in 14th century England, the challenges and triumphs of people of that time, and will be able to escape to that world for a few enjoyable hours. Escaping for a few hours is all most modern people would want to do; we would not want to live there and then, I think."  I think he has done a great job of meeting his objective.

I've read three so far:  The Unquiet Bones, A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel, and A Trail of Ink.  I think there are eight in all which I hope to eventually read.


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