Book Review: Unhallowed Ground

25 Jan

The fourth adventure of Hugh de Singleton, medieval surgeon and detective, finds Hugh investigating what seems to be a suicide of one of the town’s scoundrels and his longtime enemy. Though at first reluctant to pursue a mystery that no one else sees, Hugh and and his new wife Kate set out from the town of Bampton only to follow the clues back in order to discover which of their friends committed the murder.


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 an 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 Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.

My Impressions:

Looking for a mystery that will keep you guessing to the end?  Like a historical novel that makes you feel like you are there?  Then pick up Mel Starr’s newest medieval mystery, Unhallowed Ground.  Hugh de Singleton is back in Bampton enjoying the first months of his new marriage to his beautiful and intelligent Kate when he is thrust into the mysterious death of Thomas atte Bridge.  Thomas is an old nemesis of Hugh’s and it seems the rest of the town. No one, save his widow, is mourning his death.  But what is ruled a suicide by the local coroner may not be what it seems.

The fourth book in the series, Unhallowed Ground can easily be read as a stand alone.  There is some back story involved, but not enough for the reader to feel at sea.  Hugh, the bailiff to the local gentry and Paris trained surgeon, turns his attention to detective work with a keen eye for clues, that although limited by the absence of technology and the addition of superstition, rivals any 21st century detective.  Starr brings us a thoughtful and thorough investigator who will satisfy any mystery reader out there.  And Starr’s wonderful research of the 14th century adds authenticity — from mealtimes to building techniques to the practice of medicine.  Here is a great way to visit Merry Old England without the worry of time travel or the Black Plague.

Again the character of Hugh is well developed.  He struggles with the conventional wisdom of the day as well as his role in seeking justice for a man most deem undeserving.  And Kate continues to be a wonderful helpmate to Hugh.  This is my second book to read in the series and I look forward to many more.  (Please see my review of A Trail of Ink HERE.)

Highly Recommended.

(I received Unhallowed Ground from Kregel Publishers in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

One Response to “Book Review: Unhallowed Ground”


  1. Book Review: Unhallowed Ground « BY THE BOOK | Pulplit Magazine - January 25, 2012

    […] the original: Book Review: Unhallowed Ground « BY THE BOOK This entry was posted in Books and tagged fourth-adventure, his-longtime, longtime, […]

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