Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel - Mel Starr

I've been looking forward to this one ever since reading the first novel in this series, The Unquiet Bones, and I wasn't disappointed by the sequel.

Hugh de Singleton is a candid but openly flawed narrator, admitting when he takes credit for things he shouldn't or deceives by omission. He has no pretensions of being a hero, or even of being a particularly good bailiff, but sets out to do his duty as well as he can. As in the first novel, he does have progressive views on things - religion in particular, in this book - but his mindset is definitely more medieval than modern.

The beadle of the manor is found apparently mauled by a wild animal, but missing his shoes. When those shoes appear on the feet of one of the villagers, questions need to be asked that lead to much more than a simple wolf attack.

There are some wonderful historical details, for instance belches being a polite way to flatter your host by complimenting their dinner, and Hugh (like me!) takes pleasure in his meals, listing the dishes eaten and the manner in which they were served.

The mystery itself meanders through several different possibilities before finally discovering the truth. Hugh approaches his investigations in a Poirot-like manner, gathering most of his evidence from his knowledge of human beings and not from cold analysis.

A fascinating and immersive sequel from Mel Starr - the only bad thing is that this story ends on a cliffhanger leading into the next novel, and I don't have it so I can't read it right away!

Next up: The Adventures of Sally by P G Wodehouse

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