Hugh de Singleton returns! After solving, though not truly resolving, the case of The Tainted Coin, our heroic surgeon and bailiff of Bampton is back to face the death of Sir Henry Burley. Mel Starr’s chronicles of Hugh de Singleton continue with Rest Not in Peace.
Rest Not in Peace is the sixth book in the series. Mel Starr, teacher of history, brings us back to the fourteenth century. We dwell in a land of knights and peasants, lords and serfs, ladies and maids…and diseases, superstitions, corruption in religion and government, and, of course, murder. (On a side note, the afterword of Rest Not in Peace points out that some village scenes in the popular Downton Abbey show are filmed near the location of Brampton.)
Now, I could go on sounding like ad copy for Rest Not in Peace, and indeed I wish to. While my first exposure to Mel Starr’s writing was a bit of a challenge and change of pace, I have since found myself loving the medieval world, though not longing to live there!
In Rest Not in Peace, we move from the death-at-large motif of The Tainted Coin and examine the death of a knight. Throughout, Starr gives us insight into the cultural situation of knights and noble ladies, and contrasts those with the servants, the basic free people, and the peasants. It is, truly, like a history lesson hidden in a novel.
Rest Not in Peace does depend somewhat on prior knowledge of the characters, as many series novels will. The reader can infer enough about de Singleton, et al. without reading other novels, but you will be uncertain on a few points if this is your first exposure to the setting. Further, the lay of the land is difficult to know precisely, but the imagination works pretty well. I will say that a little deeper knowledge of the history will help, but that’s a two-way street. Read this, and get a little deeper knowledge as well.
From a religious perspective, Rest Not in Peace does well in representing the mixture of truth and superstition of the times. I also liked some of the specific concepts included, like the theology of criminal justice. The idea expressed was that punishment now for crime helped avoid punishment in eternity. While it does not line up perfectly with evangelical theology today, it was a good viewpoint to include.
Is Rest Not in Peace for you? Do you enjoy a murder mystery? Do you mind spending a rainy afternoon or two in England, 1368? I’d suggest you give it a try. The content is clean, the book straightforward.
And, as with The Tainted Coin, there’s a helpful glossary to understand the words that are coming out of Hugh’s mouth. Plus, you can use those same words on Facebook and blow people’s minds!
I did receive a free copy of this book for review. No requirement was given that the review be favorable, but Mel Starr’s writing requires it.