Master Wycliffe’s Summons

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #14

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Pub Date 22 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 18 Jun 2022
Lion Hudson Ltd, Lion Fiction

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One of Master John Wycliffe’s scholars is found dead after a thunderstorm. Was he struck by lightning, or was there something more sinister to his death?

Scholar Richard Sabyn, a particularly obnoxious fellow, was believed to have been struck by lightning. However, Master Wycliffe believes otherwise and calls upon Sir Hugh de Singleton for help. Sir Hugh shares Wycliffe’s suspicions and launches a private investigation, learning that it might indeed be possible to make it look as though a man has died from a lightning strike. But who would go to all that effort, and why?

When fellow scholar Simon Duby dies, it raises even more questions and suspicions. What is the connection between the two men? Sir Hugh believes a bronze pot, a bucket of urine, and a small quantity of charcoal and brimstone may hold the answer. During a bleak 1375, can he survive the insidious plague and several attempts on his life as he continues his quest for truth?

One of Master John Wycliffe’s scholars is found dead after a thunderstorm. Was he struck by lightning, or was there something more sinister to his death?

Scholar Richard Sabyn, a particularly...

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ISBN 9781782643470
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Featured Reviews

I really enjoy historical mysteries. I'll read mysteries set in pretty much any historical period, but admit to having a soft spot for the 14th Century, which is what drew me to Master Wycliffe's Summons—that, and the fact that Wycliffe appears in the title. Wycliffe was one of the early proponents of translating the Bible into English, which was a dangerous stance at the time, and which makes him of great interest to me.

Master Wycliffe's Summons if the first title I've read in the Hugh de Singleton series, but it's the 14th volume in that series, so I'm stepping into things a bit late. Nonetheless, I had no difficulty whatsoever sorting out the characters and following the action. The text makes it clear that this volume isn't the first in which Singleton has worked with Wycliffe, which opens up the interesting possibility that if Wycliffe keeps appearing, we may get some interesting portrayal of the process by which he became a proponent of the vernacular Bible. In this volume, Wycliffe is not yet an advocate, but a side part of the mystery involves a small group of Oxford students translating the gospels into English—and Wycliffe and Singleton's awareness of how dangerous this undertaking might be if the wrong people found out.

So, to be honest, I'm primarily reading Master Wycliffe's Summons because of my interest in Wycliffe, not because of a specific interest in this series. That said, Master Wycliffe's Summons is certainly satisfactory. The characters are interesting and have a back story. The plague makes an appearance, which is always a sort of bonus in mysteries set in this period. While the mystery is not complex in the way of the best historical mysteries (such as Pears' An Instance of the Fingerpost), the solution isn't obvious from the start, and the main characters engage in some interesting detective work on their way to a solution.

This is a series I will keep reading when I'm in one of my need-some-historical-mystery-entertainment-stat moods. Given Wycliffe's presence, I'll be tracking it and looking for Wycliffe's next appearance. If historical mysteries are an important part of your entertainment reading, you will most likely enjoy this title.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

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Another great series of mysteries playing in the Middle Ages that I have missed before! Although my introduction to Hugh de Singleton comes somewhat late in the series, the book was sufficiently stand-alone to read without any difficulty and, thankfully, without any long-winded recaps in the text.
'Master Wycliffe's Summons' are written in the first person, from the viewpoint of the likeable, tenacious Sir Hugh de Singleton, surgeon, bailiff, and well-known sleuth of his closer environs. While Sir Hugh is investigating one suspicious death another one occurs, but in a completely different manner. The plot entails a whole lot of action and dangerous twists, including the recurrence of the bubonic plague, yet the story meanders at a relatively slow and comfortably steady pace. In the process, interesting tidbits are being revealed, such as the first use of gunpowder in Europe, beliefs about the bubonic plague at the time, as well as attempts to protect oneself from it, not to forget descriptions of the culinary fare dished out in colleges and hospitals. It seems that a lot of pease and bean pottage was being consumed... Although the prose is in modern English, lots of expressions from the 14th century are included, providing additional authentic atmosphere and a cosy aura.
I enjoyed this book and its characters immensely, and recommend it to all those with a bent for medieval mysteries!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for granting me this eARC.

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Enjoyed this story line set it the 14th century, the language was tough going for me at the start but soon settled into enjoying this book and didn't want to put it down until I knew who the murderer was

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Mel Starr has the talent to take me back in time (here it's 1375) and make me feel right at home. Sir Hugh de Singleton is the bailiff to Lord Gilbert, Third Baron Talbot in Bampton when he receives a request from John Wycliffe of Queen's College, Oxford to come examine the body of one of his students who seems to have died from a lightening strike. Wycliffe doesn't believe that to be the cause of death and he wants his friend to come investigate this death. Master Hugh and his assistant in other cases, Arthur Wagge, leave immediately to try to find out what is making Wycliffe question the cause of death for the student.

This is a lovely book with special treats enjoyed by readers of historical mysteries: a Glossary for those of us who can't always remember what a word or phrase means during this time period and a drawing of the streets and locations spoken of in the city of Oxford. Both helpful to readers who are reading the 14th volume or those just embarking on this series. There are three distinct lines of substance, each with major historical significance, to keep the story moving forward which kept me interested from first page to last. Both Wycliffe and Master Hugh have prominent roles in the solving of these mysteries so if you favor one character over the other you will still be satisfied at how well they work together. Definitely recommended for readers contemplating trying a mystery set in this time period and for readers already familiar with the series. A satisfactory way to spend your reading time.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lion Hudson Ltd. for an e-galley of this novel.

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