Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: The Tainted Coin: The Fifth Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon by Mel Starr

The Tainted Coin, Hugh de Singleton Surgeon Series #5   -     
        By: Mel Starr
            With the fervor over Downton Abbey, I expect to see a number of books emerging over the next few years that reflect the intricacies of life in England. The Tainted Coin is the fifth in a series of books that tracks the exploits of Hugh de Singleton, a Surgeon in 1367 England. In addition to his profession, Master Hugh serves as Bailiff to a Lord in Bampton. This position places him in the role of investigating any ill happenings that occur on the property in which he is employed. In this chronicle, Master Hugh finds a dying man on the land who eventually passes from a beating inflicted by mysterious characters. Digging into the man's life reveals a possible cause for the beating- the man appears to have come across an undetermined amount of treasure, which he may have been killed for. Master Hugh sets out to solve the murder, and the story line moves along, incorporating new and interesting characters throughout.
 Starr's book is part of a series, and really carries a strong feel for the time period during which it was written. He ties the geography into that of the popular Downton Abbey television series, though in a much earlier time period. The basics of English culture are the same, however. A fixed aristocracy of Lords with titles and estates inhabited by tenants who rent from them. Another strong point is the vocabulary. Starr tries as much as possible to incorporate the original terms and language of the period. This makes for an extensive glossary, but adds some depth and color to the story. 

            One weakness in the story is the conclusion. Without giving the ending away, the book ends on a somewhat anticlimactic note. All in all however, it was a fun read, and I will probably find myself looking up the rest of the books in the series.

 I give The Tainted Coin 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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