Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr

Ashes to Ashes (The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #8)Master Hugh, Kate, and their children attend the Midsummer’s Eve fire. The next morning Hugh hears the passing bell ring from the Church of St. Beornwald, and moments later is summoned. Tenants collecting the ashes to spread upon their fields have found burned bones.

Master Hugh learns of several men of Bampton and nearby villages who have gone missing recently. Most are soon found, some alive, some dead. Master Hugh eventually learns that the bones are those of a bailiff from a nearby manor. Someone has slain him and placed his body in the fire to destroy evidence of murder.

Bailiffs are not popular men; they dictate labor service, collect rents, and enforce other obligations. Has this bailiff died at the hand of some angry tenant? Hugh soon discovers this is not the case. There is quite another reason for murder . . . 

Available AmazonKregel, and other online retailers. 
More books in the series: HERE

Mel StarrAbout the Author:
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years--thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he chaired the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel retired in 2003. He and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Learn more about his books on his website http://melstarr.net/

This book was provided me by Kregel Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation has been given. 

My Thoughts:
This book was a different take from what I usually read. Set in medieval times, Master Hugh is a bailiff to Lord Gilbert and also a surgeon. After a body is found in the Mid Summer's Eve fire, he is on a quest to discover who's body it is. There is not much to go on, such as there would be today, and it is extremely interesting to read how things were done back then.

The most difficult part of the book was the "old" English language that is used and often I needed to refer to the dictionary in the front of the book to understand better what a word meant. But that did not discourage my interest in the book, as a matter of fact, it probably boosted it. Not only was this book enjoyable but it was also educational. 

Although the cover looks a bit "gory" the book itself was not that way at all. It was like going back in time. I felt like I could have been walking those paths with Master Hugh as he searched for the killer and the identification of the corpse.  The story would sort of come to a halt as though there wasn't much left to learn, the take on a new twist, and he would gain new information.

Some interesting things that captured my attention were his love for the Lord Christ, how his service to Lord Gilbert compared to his (our) service to Christ. "Lord Gilbert, when he offered me the post of bailiff, had not promised comfort. Who is interested in my comfort? Not Lord Gilbert. He desires only my service. Does the Lord Christ wish for my comfort? He did not say so. Rather, He told his followers they must take up their cross and follow Him. A cross is not a comfortable burden. The Lord Christ I think is more interested in my character than my comfort. What kind of man would flee his duty when it becomes uncomfortable?"

Despite the book not being my usual style, I really enjoyed it. And would actually like to read a few others in this series. This book is number 8 in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon.  But I had no trouble getting the whole picture. 


  1. Amy, I read another book in this series and loved it, as I like my mysteries to be more about detective work rather than suspense. I don't know why I didn't review this one. Either I didn't get an announcement or I was too busy. Anyway, I hope to read the whole series eventually. I love your new blog look, by the way.

    1. Carole, Thanks for stopping by. I really liked this book! I enjoy detective mysteries too, and am so excited to have found this series. I would love to read the rest of them. Thanks for your vote of confidence on my blog.


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