Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: The Unqiet Bones

The Unquiet Bones (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton - Book 1) by Melvin R. Starr

Publication Date: November 2008
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller
ISBN-13: 9780825462900
ISBN: 0825462908

(Received for review from Kregel Publications)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound
If you live in Morehead, KY or the surrounding area:
Purchase from our IndieBound bookstore, Coffee Tree Books
Borrow from our library, The Rowan County Public Library

Author's Website:
Mel Starr Fan Book Page on Facebook: Click HERE!
Excerpt: Click HERE!

Synopsis (Barnes & Noble):

Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders. However, he feels no real calling - despite his lively faith - and he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris and then hanging his sign in Oxford. Soon after, a local lord asks Hugh de Singleton to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cesspool. Through his medical knowledge, Singleton identifies her as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith. The young man she loved - whom she had provoked very publicly - is quickly arrested and sentenced at Oxford. But this is just the beginning of the tale. The story of Singleton's adventure unfolds with realistic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, romantic distractions, and a consistent underlying sense of Christian compassion.


Mel Starr has created a character in Hugh de Singleton that is both lovable and bumbling. The first book in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, The Unquiet Bones gives the reader a medical mystery, but it's not your average tale, it's set in medieval England. With a touch of romance, this suspenseful story is anything but boring. It's full of surgery's and unidentified bones and the occasion evening with a lady.

Hugh de Singleton was expected to take the holy orders, but he felt his calling lead in a different direction. After studying in Paris he puts his shingle out in the town of Oxford. Shortly after, Lord Gilbert of Bampton Castle is thrown from his horse and it's up to Hugh to fix him up. Showing his gratitude Lord Gilbert sets Hugh up as the town surgeon of Bampton. Then some mysterious bones turn up. Hugh is expected to not only identify the bones but also find the killers. Which sets Hugh up for an adventure across the English countryside in search of a murder. His relationship with Lady Joan develops along the way as Hugh de Singleton tries to find the culprit before it's too late.

I really enjoyed this medieval medical mystery. The author, Mel Starr's attention to detail in this book makes it come across as very authentic. Starr describes every day life in medieval England as well as complex medical procedures of the time. Starr uses his unique experience as a history professor to bring this time period to life, through the voice of the young doctor, Hugh de Singleton.

Hugh is a very interesting character. Not only is he sweet and honest, but he's a bit of a mess. His antics as he searches for the killer, brought me many a smile and a chuckle as I wondered what kind of nonsense he was going to get himself into next. Starr gives the reader a character that is easy to identify with, but also one that seems intelligent and up for the task of both surgeon and private investigator.

I liked the trace amounts of romance in the book as well. Just enough to whet the appetite so to speak. This book will appeal to both medical mystery fans as well as suspense and thriller fans, and some historical fiction and romance buffs as well. I look forward to reading more of Hugh's adventures as this series continues with The Second Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, The Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel. Look for my review in the near future.

The Unquiet Bones is available from your favorite bookseller NOW.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Mel Starr has spent many years teaching history, and is a student of medieval surgery and medieval English. He lives in Michigan.