19 Dec 2017

Deeds of Darkness by Mel Starr

Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton #10 
 18th August (UK), 21st October (USA), Lion Fiction/Kregel
240 Pages, Print and ebook
To bring justice, Master Hugh must foil the corrupt power of great men.
Many medieval scholars discontinued their university studies before completing their degree. Some lacked funds; others became bored with a scholar's life. Occasionally these young men formed lawless bands, robbing and raping and creating chaos. They were called goliards.

In Deeds of Darkness Master Hugh learns that the Bampton coroner, an old friend, has been slain while traveling to Oxford. As he seeks the killer (or killers) he discovers a band of goliards in the area between Oxford and Bampton. But how to apprehend these youths? They have protectors far above Hugh's station. He must deal with the claims of justice on the one hand and the power of great men to protect their henchmen on the other.

My Review: ★★

I’ve followed the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton series almost since the start. Well, OK since the third book came out (but then I went back and read the first two). Although I enjoyed the last book, Lucifer’s Harvest, I think I preferred this one. It's certainly up to the standard of some of the older books in the series (and back to full length at 250 pages: the last one was an aberration at only 125 pages), but also offered plenty for new readers.

There’s everything that fans have come to love, with the details about Medieval medicine, surgery, and life. We can learn a new word ‘hamsoken’ which was the Medieval equivalent of breaking and entering. Who knew that those Medieval landowners were supposed to cut the vegetation back from the edges of public roads, so miscreants would have fewer places to hide? Its small details like that which really add to the series, as well as the relationships between characters and not simply the central mystery.

Hugh’s wife Kate is back in her element, as the intelligent and witty Lady who offers a lot of wise advice, and now they have a son, named after John Wycliffe, no less. Also, her father re-enters the story and his character makes a rather unexpected, but satisfying transformation. I shall say no more, so as not to spoil it. Arthur and Uhtred, Hugh’s erstwhile right-hand-men are also ever-present.

That was also done quite well with a suspect who was not immediately obvious. My only complaints were the use of one or two American terms which slipped through ‘anyplace’ and ‘someplace’, were the ones I remembered. Also, I do seem to recall a little inconsistency about the detail of where one character lived. Overall though, I am glad that this series is continuing (and the Black Prince is going to be in the next one again), its pretty much the reading highlight of my Autumn each year. Recommended for all lovers of historical mysteries which aren’t too intense or too dark. 

I requested a copy of this title from the publisher/distributors including Kregel Books but was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

1 comment:

  1. "Hamsoken" is a word to describe illegal activities of breaking and entering! :)


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