Cover Image: Without a Trace

Without a Trace

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Member Reviews

Good historical mystery. I dint read many of these, but I must say I have enjoyed this one by its cover, plot and storyline. 
Recommended enough to read more books by this author.
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I do so enjoy this series and this book was no exception. 

A bit of magic, some sleight of hand and a Lady and her maid disappear from a closed coach. It is the middle of the 14th Century, how hard can it be to find out what happened? Well Sir Hugh, being human, managed to find a blind alley or two before finding out the truth and his peregrinations in the pursuit of that truth made for a very good read. I would have loved to have read the book in one sitting but, when 01:30 came, I had to be sensible and sleep. I finished the book, with a knowing smile, later that day and am now looking forward to volume 13.
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Mel Starr chronicles the twelfth Hugh de Singleton tale in Without a Trace.Lady Philippa, wife of Sir Aymer, disappears enroute to Lord Gilbert's castle. Gilbert's bailiff and surgeon Sir Hugh de Singleton is set to recover the  lady.  A ransom is paid and stolen; no lady is found. Sir Hugh finds gang activity with knightly connivance in another kidnapping, but no Lady Philippa.  Where is she? Why did she go?  Medieval mystery true to lifestyle of the time and a good read.
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Expecting the wife of a local noble, Lord Gilbert is dismayed when Philippa Aymer's cart arrives in Bampton without its cargo.  When a ransom is paid a couple of days later but the lady not returned Lord Gilbert asks his bailiff Hugh to investigate.  
Mel Starr's books are very consistent, the reader knows what to expect.  The crimes are not written in a graphical way but are interesting enough but the key here is the insight into the everyday life in medieval England.  Here there is a contrast between academic life in Oxford and the rural life in Bampton and it works very well.
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An excellent latest installment in the continuing Hugh de Singleton series. This book focuses on the disappearance of a noblewoman rather than a murder, and I think there is more of an emphasis on procedure and investigation in this one.

The mystery has plenty of twists and turns, false starts and red herrings. Hugh- now Sir Hugh, follows a false trail and the wrong lead, which leads him to another potential mystery. In a sense, this proves he is only human and not everything is easy for him to solve.

As with the other novels in this series, there's usually an operation or two for Hugh to perform; this time he performs one on a horse as well. The details about life in late 14th century England are also well done. In this case, they relate a lot to marriage and religion, as well as a moral dilemma towards the end.

There is a rather interesting scene in which Hugh sees some of his acquaintances using an early form a magnifying glass and decides he must have one (even though he does not struggle with his eyesight): the Medieval equivalent of needing the latest gadget or iPad.

Hugh's family also come into this one quite a lot, with his clever wife Kate, their children and her father. Readers should be warned, though, there are some tragic scenes that tug at the heart strings in this book as Hugh and his loved ones struggle with illness and a loss in the family.

It would probably have been possible for Hugh to solve this mystery quicker, and the book was rather more slow paced then some of the others, but it has everything that dedicated readers of this series have come to love. There's no political intrigue, sex or graphic violence, as you find in other mystery series, but some people appreciate that.
I thought it was a good installment, and look forward to the next one.

Although this book was released a week ago, I was sent a copy by the Publisher in August as I have reviewed titles for them in the past. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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1373 and Lady Philippa Molyns is travelling from her home in Coleshill to Bampton. Escorted by her husband and his retinue. But on arriving at Bampton Lady Philippa and her maid have disappeared. Sir Hugh de Singleton is instructed by Lord Gilbert to investigate.
This standalone story is an enjoyable easy to read mystery, with its likeable characters.
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What a good book this is.  I have never read a book by Mel Starr before, but I am going to rectify that omission as soon as possible.  I enjoyed “Without a Trace” very much, and did not find it to be difficult to understand the various strands of the series.  This is an historical mystery, taking place in 1373, in the later part of the reign of Edward III.

The series protagonist is a doctor, Hugh de Singleton, who is the bailiff for a baron, Lord Gilbert Talbot.  This gives him a strong backer for his investigations.  In this book, a lady disappears in weird circumstances.  She is on the road in a covered wagon, with her own husband and his men all around her.  But she and her maid are found to be missing with no one seeing what happened.  Did she run off with a lover, or was she kidnapped for ransom?  It falls to Hugh de Singleton to investigate.

I don’t like spoilers, so I will not give any.  This is a very intricate and convoluted story, and when it is all explained (I didn’t see it coming), hangs together perfectly.  This is the twelfth chronicle of Hugh de Singleton which means I have eleven more to which to look forward, plus any new ones to come.   

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.  The opinions are my own.
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Without a Trace by Melvin R. Starr
The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #12

Coming into this series on book twelve may not have been the best idea. I never really became invested in Hugh,  his family or any of the characters. The story was told from Hugh’s viewpoint and felt a bit stodgy to me with him telling what happens but without any oomph. It may be that if I had read the previous eleven books I would feel differently. This is a reminder to myself not to pick up series so far along. The book description is sufficient to indicate what the story will be about. There are a few medical issues Hugh the surgeon has to deal with, some family interaction is mentioned and then there was the sleuthing. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Lion Hudson (Fiction) for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

2-3 Stars
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Another good book in a fine historical mystery series.  Well developed characters and good historical research.  The storytelling is done well and gives the reader a strong sense of place and time, with the added bonus of suspense.
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This is twelfth in a series which I had not read before. The story covers the travels of Sir Hugh as he attempts the discover the fate of Lady Philippa. 

There are a few lovable characters in this book and I enjoyed getting to know them. There are numerous additional characters who I assume are present in the rest of the series.

The book provides insight in to how gangs and criminals operated in medieval times.

Overall I found this an easy read and quite enjoyable. I would consider reading more of the series.
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