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Book Review: Prince Edward's Warrant by Mel Starr

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August 26, 2018
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Prince-Edward's-Warrant

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£7.99
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£6.39 (kindle)

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ISBN
9781782642626
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Fiction
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Master Hugh won the Black Prince's favour when he helped ease the prince's illness. Now, in the autumn of 1372, the prince is suffering a relapse and sends to Bampton for Master Hugh to attend him.

While at dinner in Kennington Palace, Sir Giles, the knight who escorted Hugh to London, is stricken and dies.

Poison! Sir Giles is not popular, and there are many who would gladly see the fellow done away with... except for Prince Edward. The Black Prince feels a debt to the slain man because of his heroic behaviour at the Battle of Crecy, where the knight stood firm with the prince when the fight seemed of uncertain outcome.

Despite caring little for Sir Giles, Master Hugh must once again place himself in jeopardy and seek to uncover the perpetrator of the crime...

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Prince Edward's Warrant by Mel Starr
Overall rating 
 
9.0
Writing 
 
9.0
Story 
 
9.0
Value 
 
8.0
Flow 
 
10.0

The Unquiet Bones was the first book in the Chronicles of Hugh De Singleton, Surgeon and was published in 2008. Set in the 1360's, the newly qualified surgeon Hugh de Singleton comes to the aid of a local Lord who is injured. Upon his successful recovery Hugh is hired by the Lord and eventually made his Bailiff. This means that it falls to him to keep order in and around the lands of Bampton, as well as being the local surgeon. 10 Years on, the series is going strong with Hugh De Singleton now well established as a Bailiff, over the years he has travelled, including to assist Prince Edward, the heir to the throne in one of his previous adventures where he not only sorted out his stomach problems, but also investigated a mystery.

In Prince Edward's Warrant Hugh's presence is requested by the Black Prince at his Castle in London, Sir Giles is sent to Bampton to accompany Hugh to the Prince. The Prince is having more health troubles and his own physician's remedies do not seem to be working, desperate he has called on Hugh's services, despite him being a surgeon and not a Doctor. Shortly after arrival, in the great hall towards the end of the meal Sir Giles, sitting at the Princes table, falls over, dead. Could it be that he has been murdered, possibly even poisoned? The Prince doesn't trust the people in his castle so he appoints Hugh to investigate the possible crime. So Hugh sets about finding out if this is indeed a poisoning, and also investigating why one of the Castle's valets is missing.

Coming into a series so far into it may seem a little daunting but actually this book stands alone quite nicely. You are given enough information about what has gone before in the series that is relevant, but not too much that if you have read those books that you will get bored with the recap. I came into this series on the previous book Deeds of Darkness and I found it easy to pick up and read. Of course with these books, being set in the 1360's and now 1370's, Mel Starr replicates some of the language patterns of the day as well as using words that were commonly used back then. Thankfully there is a glossary at the front of the book that explains any terms that are not in common use today. All of this does take a little bit of getting used to of course, but after a couple of chapters I found that I got used to the style.

The story starts quickly and moves forward at quite a pace. Of course because the book is set in the 1360's many of the crime solving methods are not available to Hugh de Singleton, he can't easily test the wine for poison, for example. In order to find if the wine was poisoned he needs to check by trying to see if a lamb reacts to the liquid. A lot of the investigation is talking to people, reading body language and using logic. This of course plays really well to the reader allowing us into the investigators thought processes too.

This is a satisfying story and it works very well. It's well written and has a satisfying conclusion which also looks like it will move Hugh's life forward to the next stage, and providing some interest for the next novels. The book is very well researched and set brilliantly in the time period, the language helps to establish this, but the locations also feel real. Everything feels rooted in the time it's meant to be, from Bampton Castle to the castle at Kennington in London, as well as other descriptions of the city. These give a great idea of what the country in this area was like at the time.

This is another great book from Mel Starr and I am glad that the series seems to be continuing as there is a preview of the first chapter of the next novel at the end of the book. If you like crime novels then this one is clever, well written and has the advantage of being set in a believable time period.

RA

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