The fourth chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon
224 pages. One map. Plus opening chapter of the next book in the series.
Set in medieval England, this series follows the adventures of Hugh de Singleton, trained as a surgeon in Paris, and appointed bailiff at Bampton Castle. In addition to managing Lord Gilbert's affairs, it is his duty to enforce justice to those who dwell on Lord Gilbert's lands. This fourth book in the series finds Hugh, now married to lovely Kate Caxton, troubled by the apparent suicide by hanging of his former enemy, Thomas atte Bridge.
The dead man is found hanging from a tree along the roadside, and the coroner's jury has concluded that it is a suicide. But if so, why is the man's face bruised and beaten? Why is there mud on the backs of his heels, but not on the bottoms of his shoes, nor on the stool he stood upon?
As Hugh investigates the matter, he soon finds that Thomas had harmed many people while alive, and many of the good people of the town had motive to kill him. In solving the death of a hated man, while Hugh expose the criminal act of a friend?
This is another enjoyable book in the series, which I think of less as murder mysteries and more as adventure tales in a medieval setting. Once more, I was entertained while flipping to the glossary to find the meaning of words now obscure: alaunt, hamsoken, and mortrews, for instance. The author deftly shows how entwined the life of a medieval town was with its religious traditions. And along the way, Hugh gets to practice surgery - this time, including cataract surgery, medieval-style.
Although the book is free of graphic violence and sexual descriptions, there is some mention of subjects (rape, death in childbirth) which might not be suitable for younger readers.
This novel includes characters and references to several of the previous novels, so it is best enjoyed after reading the earlier books in the series.
This novel entertained me. I recommend it.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .