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The Unquiet Bones based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
These are the adventures of Master Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon (and bailiff) in Bampton, England during the mid-14th century. When human bones are found at the bottom of the privy pit, Hugh puzzles out to whom they belong and “whodunit”. Hugh takes us along back and forth to Oxford and all the villages and surrounding countryside around Bampton. We get slices of medieval life and meet some very interesting characters, some who are not so nice and many who recur in later books. I REALLY like this author’s style of writing, his characterizations, the descriptions, and sense of time and place that are conveyed. Sometimes the first person narrative is a bit jarring, but this series is purported to be Hugh’s journal, after all. There is some wonderful dry humor and wit, but there is also a matter-of-fact treatment of violence. Well done, I think. This is the 1st book in the series of 5 (so far) and I have read them all. Each book stands alone just fine, but I would recommend reading them in order. I really enjoyed the series and will be watching for the next one. Across the five books, the characterizations deepen and Hugh’s life really does spring from the pages. And, of course, you come to care a great deal about Master Hugh! I wanted to write this review because I see that a lot of reviewers were given a book to review and seemed to write long disclaimers and describe the plot in such detail that I felt like I was reading an 8th grade book report. I wanted to say that I bought ALL the books for my nook and I love them. I would not have bought the 2nd one had I not! SOME of the writing is a tad repetitive – Hugh thinks about food a lot so he describes his meals quite often and when he stays at an inn with fleas, you WILL read about that too!
Great Medieval mystery! VERDICT: If you like mysteries set in Medieval England, Hugh of Singleton may be your next favorite character. Discover his world in this first book of the series, and accompany him as he tries to identify the bones of a murdered person and to figure out who might have done it. Brother Cadfael is one of my favorite Medieval heroes. Alas, Ellis Petters died in 1995, so there will not be any new book with him. But I think I found a very good replacement in The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. Cadfael was a monk and he lived in the 12th century. Hugh de Singleton lives in England two centuries later, and he is surgeon and a bailiff, but he studied theology. His spiritual master is none other than John Wyclif (1330-1384) and Hugh goes to asks his advice from time to time. Like Brother Cadfael, Hugh is a very kind man. He is smart, human, spiritual, and down to earth. Actually, I believe Mel Starr probably enjoys Cadfael himself a lot, and was inspired by him: I don’t think this is a coincidence that his first book has the word “bones”, just as the first book in the Cadfael series (A Morbid Taste for Bones) and both second books have the word “corpse” in common in their titles. This is just one little common point it was fun to discover. The first book of the series opens with the narrator Hugh: bones have been found at the base of Bampton Castle, so Lord Gilbert called Hugh to try to identify them and find the murderer. The book is rich with background history, especially circumstances following the Black Death, and many medical details. I really enjoyed the local and colorful characters. There are also great passages on the world of itinerant troupes of the time. There are lots of down to earth and ironic reflections on life and people, and enough red herrings to make the novel quite suspenseful. I definitely want to read the next books in the series! It was neat to read that the author found the village of Bampton when he visited friends there in 2001, and he saw this would be a great setting for mystery novels. This is actually the second printing of this book. It was originally published in 2008. Mel Starr is a history teacher, so you won’t be surprised to find at the beginning of the book an excellent and quite extensive glossary of terms used in the Middle Ages. There’s also a map of Bampton. Be sure to check his website, with a trailer, lots of great resources, including a calendar in Middle English and Latin. VERDICT: If you like mysteries set in Medieval England, Hugh of Singleton may be your next favorite character. Discover his world in this first book of the series, and accompany him as he tries to identify the bones of a murdered person and to figure out who might have done it.