Friday, March 11, 2011

Blog Tour: A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr

The Litfuse Blog Tour has begun and I agreed to review Mel Starr's A Trail of Ink.  I love historical Christian fiction and to toss in a good whodunit in the mix sounded like fun!  Here we go.....

About the Book:
An excellent medieval whodunit by the author of The Unquiet Bones and A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel.

Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh's investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh's pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate?

One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor Oxford scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon s skills to prove.

So begins another delightful and intriguing tale from the life of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in the medieval village of Bampton. Masterfully researched by medieval scholar Mel Starr, the setting of the novel can be visited and recognized in modern-dayEngland. Enjoy more of Hugh s dry wit, romantic interests, evolving faith, and dogged determination as he pursues his third case as bailiff of Bampton.

My Thoughts:  
Initially, I thought I made a mistake! The storyline seems to take several chapters to get established and it felt as if I was making myself read the book.  The language Starr chooses to write in, while may be appropriate to the period, makes the story less appealing to the reader.  It slows the development of the characters and the plot. 

However, after trudging through the first several chapters, I found myself wanting to like Hugh Singleton, the main character.  He is a very likeable guy, not too puffed up or proud and always on the side of good.  I wanted his side to win (both in courting Kate and in locating the missing books) and found myself unable to put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  

To the author's credit, this is the third book in a series and I had not read the first two.  Would reading those previous books have helped the story move along?  I don't know.  But, having finished this 3rd book, I would like to go back and read book 1 & 2 in the series now.  

Starr does an excellent job of setting development...I felt as if I was in the Middle Ages as I read.  The smells of the foods, the noises of the crowds, the jostlings of the wagons....all things I could smell, hear, and imagine tasting just from reading his words.  Probably were a few things I could go without hearing, smelling or tasting, too!  He provides a map, glossary, and some of the historical facts that helped build the story.  All of these "extras" add to your understanding and appreciation of the book.  

All in all, I would give this book 3.5 stars.

About the Author:  
Mel Starr was born and grew up in KalamazooMichigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in PortageMI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

I received this book  from Litfuse Book Tour in exchange for my fair and honest review.  My opinions expressed in this review are my own.