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Publisher's Summary

A further episode in the Unquiet Bones series, following the life and fortunes of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in medieval Bampton, Oxfordshire

Alan, the beadle of the manor of Bampton, had gone out at dusk to seek those who might violate curfew. When, the following morning, he had not returned home, his young wife Matilda had sought out Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of the manor. Two days later Alan’s corpse was discovered in the hedge, at the side of the track to St. Andrew’s Chapel. His throat had been torn out - his head was half severed from his body - and his face, hands, and forearms were lacerated with deep scratches.

Master Hugh, meeting Hubert the coroner at the scene, listened carefully to the coroner’s surmise that a wolf had caused the great wound. And yet, if so, why was there no blood?

©2013 Mel Starr (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good

Light on plot but the writing is beautiful; and in the softer old language -- not sharp and to the point as modern English has become. It is very interesting historically without being so historically dense it weighs everything down. The telling of the story is gentle, the narrator's voice is deep but gentle even though some harsh things happen. But it isn't just wimpy sweet. When bad things happen there's passion and intensity and warmth in the happy things. The underlying even keel, for me, isn't boring but balanced, showing good and bad are part of life -- the tone is more contemplative, thoughtful, peaceful. The writing and attitude bring so much depth that the slow plot isn't boring -- for me anyway.

5 people found this helpful

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Wonderful series

Really wonderful books. No foul language or sex, etc. Historically accurate and interesting. I really like Susanna Gregory’s Bartholomew, but these are better.

4 people found this helpful

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Forensics, Surgery, Apothecary and Sleuth

In the second book, Hugh of Singleton is keeping very busy at Bampton Castle and thereabouts, when the beadle of the manor turns up dead. And not JUST dead, but mutilated as if an animal had attacked him. With Lord Gilbert frequently traveling about, much of the manor business is left to Hugh to attend to, including preparing medicines from the local fields and woods, performing surgeries, administering healing potions, as well as forensics, determining how, when and why people died. Which takes us into the sleuthing, which Hugh does so well . . . albeit a bit on the sly, whilst performing his other duties. Hugh has wry wit and is often contemplating why he cannot achieve the one eyebrow lift that Lord Gilbert so easily achieves. His slow and easy thoughtfulness adds much to the story. He's never rushed, and the listener is usually waiting for the "next shoe to drop", as we know that he is surely up to something. He cannot be goaded into a quick or easy solution, and will continue to niggle at a problem until he gets at the root of it. Also always at the back of his mind is that he would be a much more satisfied man were he married. 🙂So he is always on the lookout for just the right woman, not above or below his station, and one that will not try his patience. 😂 I love the atmosphere, the personalities, the steady pace of the story, and as always, the eventual conclusion to the mystery. Excellent series!

1 person found this helpful

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  • dr
  • 02-08-21

Worth a listen.

A somewhat better constructed plot than the first in the series. There is a continual absorption with the idea of finding a wife but without much thought behind the process. The plot is rather more convoluted and somewhat unbelievable compared to the prior book. Nevertheless, it is an engaging story and as most in a series does, leaves you with a cliffhanger that wants them to hear more.

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  • The Curator
  • 02-01-20

Unchallenging but entertaining

This is the second in this series. So far they’re fairly straightforward fun and that’s what I want from a book.
This one is based on murder, poaching and the rather hapless main character falling in love for the 20th time in 2 books.

5 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 11-11-20

The author doth protest too much.

There were hints of it in the first book in this series, but the pomposity in this book is overwhelming.
The surgeon-cum-bailiffe Hugh de Singleton morphs his narrative of what otherwise might be a jolly enough crime story into a prating, hypcritical treatise on the Protestant movement.
Yeah, yeah, we get it: the Catholic Church in Britain (and elsewhere) was currupt and self-serving. Yes, it was in need of reform, but if you wish to enlighten your reader about a particular historical period, why couch theories on it using 'unempeachable' language? Starr presents Thomas Wycliffe's theological position (a precursor to Luther) through Hugh's voice, and Hugh presents them in an, 'any right minded person couldn't possibly think other wise' kind of voice - you can virtually hear his jowls wobbling as he says these things. It is because of this that the novel's bias is obvious and unpalatable.
What makes it worse is that while criticising the injustices of the established church, Hugh has no problem in enforcing the same inequalities when they are present in the fuedal system. In fact, as the Bailiff he enforces them - with absolutely no irony. Hugh goes into great descriptions about the different removes of food that he enjoys at his Lord's table while making strong moral judgements about the common people who poach venison! He acknowledges the common folk are lucky to see meat once a week so thinks it’s fair to lay the blame on the church's greed - this at the same time as tucking into his fish, capons and tarts.
Starr may think that criticising a religious institution’s selfishness whilst upholding the state's hierarchal position is acceptable but he should not expect his readers to be naive enough to overlook the contradiction.

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  • Phil
  • 08-14-20

NIce book but ...

I enjoyed the first book in the series, primarily because if you managed to forget the time shift and bearing in mind it's read by Steven Crossley, one can easily forget it's not a story about Matthew Shardlake. What's not to like?

This second book, although lovely to listen to and thoroughly enjoyable, is not exactly overflowing with a complex mystery. It left me wondering if I will buy the next in the series.

For such a great stylistic writer why on Earth such a poor plot? Such a shame.

Just noticed his books seem to get shorter after this. I think not - time to move on.



1 person found this helpful

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  • Wattie
  • 03-08-21

Great Storyline

A nice easy to read story with great characters, good plot and with an easy to listen to narrator.

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  • Devon Girl
  • 02-26-21

Enjoyable but less so than the first in the series

I had greatly enjoyed this book's predecessor but found that this dragged in places. Diverting, nevertheless.

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  • Esma Pearcey
  • 02-11-21

Another outing for Master Hugh

The second book of the Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon chronicles sees our young, lonely, slightly dorky, medieval hero become enmeshed, somewhat painfully, in the intrigues and affairs of the local townsfolk. Yes, it’s a fairly simple mystery, but it’s a nice delve into the affairs of various local residents and their intertwined lives. A small mystery for a small place. I don’t agree with other reviews about Hugh’s religious questionings, they’re not frequent or obtrusive and just add to the character’s rich inner life. He is, after all, a young well educated man.
The prose clips the story along at a good pace and doesn’t shy away from using period accurate terms for everyday items.
If you enjoy Cadfael or Shardlake then this is a good series for you, though the tone is slightly lighter due to the focus on more local, small town matters rather than national political upheaval, and Hugh’s youthful foibles.

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  • cyndy foard
  • 08-05-20

a corpse

loved it. simple but lovely storyline
not too complicated to follow and I love the ending
definitely worth a listen can't wait for the next one.
Steven crossley is one of my favourite narrators

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  • Pam Herbert
  • 06-07-20

A gentle whodunnit

A mediaeval murder mystery, set in rural England - pace is slow & gentle.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-20-20

Enjoying

Really enjoyed this 2nd book as well as the 1st in this series, am now hooked and looking forward to hearing the rest

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-18-20

Old school but old favouriite!

Some might say ponderous but what do they know.

A purity and charm rarely found.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-28-20

Bedtime story

It took me a number of weeks to get through the book. It was to me a bedroom book, one you read befor going to sleep. The pace is slow and can get a bit hard to follow. For all the hard work put into creating a story, and then the solution is so weak.