Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: A Corpse at St. Andrews Chapel, by Melvin Starr

Pages: 34

Original date of publication: 2009

My edition: 2010 (Monarch Books)

Why I decided to read: I read the first book in the series in January

How I acquired my copy: LTER, February 2010

A Corpse at St. Andrew’s Chapel is the second tale (or chronicle) of Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon and bailiff who also solves mysteries in the town of Bampton. This time, a beadle has been found dead near St. Andrew’s Chapel, his throat brutally slashed. Everyone assumes that a wolf has killed him; but on the other hand, maybe it was murder?

Since I’ve read the first two installments in this series, I’ll start with the obvious comparisons. Hugh is an engaging hero, likeable despite his self-confessed vanity regarding his talents. In the second book, the author manages to keep Hugh in character, while still having him develop as a person. The mystery itself is a bit pedestrian, but everything wraps up well in the end. As in the first novel in the series, Starr makes Wycliff a character, but he doesn’t add much to the plot of the book other than to help Hugh with his deductions.

Where the author really excels, however, is in period detail, as well as the details of medieval surgery. There’s less of it here in this book than in The Unquiet Bones, however, but that actually added to my enjoyment of the book. In all, this is a better book than the first in the series, though the mystery itself takes the backseat sometimes.

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