Book Review: A Trail of Ink

5 Mar

Some valuable books have been stolen from master John Wycliff, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh’s investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh’s pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to the pursuit of Kate…or both?

Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964.  He received 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 retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Kennesaw, GA, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI.  Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.

My Impressions:

I love, love, love medieval history!  Yeah, I know, what a geek!  But I have always had a passion for all things medieval.  A great place to visit through histories, biographies, novels, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  Too many plagues; not enough antibiotics or indoor plumbing.  So, I was excited when given a chance to review Mel Starr’s latest historical mystery set in 14th century Oxford.  What a great book and a great way to visit the medieval world without contracting the Black Death!

A Trail of Ink features surgeon and bailiff, Hugh de Singleton.  A bailiff goes around collecting rents from a landowner’s tenants.  Even in the 1300s the tax man is an unwanted visitor.  And evidently a surgeon is not as prestigious a job as a physician.  Hugh, often despised and unappreciated, serves his liege lord and his heavenly Lord faithfully.  In addition to his tax collecting and surgery duties, Hugh is great at solving mysteries.  He already has two under his belt when friend John Wycliff (yes that John Wycliff) asks him to solve the case of the stolen books. Already in Oxford to woo the beautiful Kate, Hugh readily agrees.

Starr brings to the page a vibrant look at medieval culture — from the clothing, habitations, and food to the customs and justice system of the time.  The characters are well developed — Hugh is witty and a bit naive, Kate is both beautiful and shrewd, Arthur is ready and willing for a fight and John Wycliff is the quintessential Oxford don.  The mystery keeps the reader guessing; the resolution never guessed at.  The third in the series, A Trail of Ink can be read as a stand alone, but for many more hours of reading enjoyment, I would recommend beginning at the beginning.  (I know I will be going back to read the first 2 books.)

Highly Recommended.

Other books in the series:

The Unquiet Bones

A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel


For the blog tour of  A Trail of Ink, please click here.

To read what others are saying, please click here.


A Trail of Ink Contest:

Kregel Publishers is graciously donating a $50 gift card for the Litfuse Blog Tour Contest! Woo-hoo (thanks Kregel!) All you have to do to enter is either tweet (see TWEET THIS below) or share the book on Facebook using this link:


TWEET THIS: A Trail of Ink by Mel Star. An excellent medieval whodunit. RT for a chance to win a $50 GC to @amazon! #litfuse

  • (and be sure to use the hashtag #litfuse to be entered into gift certificate drawing and no need to email that you tweeted – we’ll be able to track it via the hashtag.)


FACEBOOK THIS: A Trail of Ink by Mel Star. An excellent medieval whodunit. Share on your wall for a chance to win a $50 GC to @amazon!

  • (email to let us know you ‘shared’.)

(I received a copy of A Trail of Ink from LitFuse in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

6 Responses to “Book Review: A Trail of Ink”

  1. Renee Ann March 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Love your blog, Becki! And this book sounds fascinating. Thanks for stopping in to leave a comment at Doorkeeper. I answered your question there.

  2. Renee Ann March 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Beckie, here’s the link to the details about next month’s Christian fiction book club:

    • rbclibrary March 6, 2011 at 8:00 am #


  3. Brenda March 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Beckie, I am just finishing this book for review next week, it was a different sort of read for me but I really liked it. I noticed you are reading Beneath The Night Tree, I read it about a month ago and really liked the story and characters, only wish I would have read the other books in the series first,oh well I will probably go back and read them anyway since I liked the books so well.

    • rbclibrary March 6, 2011 at 8:00 am #

      I like Beneath The Night Tree so far too. Haven’t read the first 2 either. I have the first book on my Kindle (it was free!)

  4. Diane March 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I really enjoyed this book too. Can’t wait to get my hands on his other books. :O)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: