A historical mystery sure to please: My review of Unhallowed Ground by Mel Starr

Publisher: Monarch Books (December 1, 2011)

Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of Bamptom in the year 1366, believes that Thomas, a man found hanging from a tree, has been murdered. All others, with the exception of his wife, believe that Thomas took his own life. As Hugh sets out to uncover the truth, he begins to uncover more and more evidence supporting his belief Thomas was murdered, but soon finds himself in a dilemma of having to investigate his friends for the murder of a man who was once his enemy.

This is the first chronicle of the Hugh de Singleton series that I have read, and I find myself wishing I had been able to read the first three! This novel was easy to get into despite not having read the others in the series, and Hugh is a fascinating medieval character, from his role as bailiff to his unique skills as a surgeon. Scenes such as the one where he removes a cataract added a unique flavour to the story as I considered the state of medicine in the 1300s. Overall, I greatly appreciated the rich historical detail in the book, such as learning of the "childwite", a fine for having a chlid out of wedlock. I cannot imagine such a fine today - seemingly half of all parents out there would be paying such a fee! The mystery itself was finely orchestrated and kept the pages madly turning, and the book is chock-full of godly wisdom. My favorite quote is "What is justice but truth with it's sleeves rolled up, ready for labor?".

Mel Starr is a gifted writer, with excellent pacing, interesting dialogue, and strong characterization. All in all, I greatly enjoyed this book and will be looking for future works from this talented author. I highly recommend Unhallowed Ground to those who love historical mysteries, and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book provided courtesy of the publisher, Monach Books & Kregel, for the purposes of this unbiased review.