Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an 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 Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.
Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.
After reading two other books in Mel Starr’s medieval mystery series, I was looking forward to more adventures with Hugh de Singleton, surgeon. The Tainted Coin did not disappoint. Faced with a dead chapman (a traveling peddler) on his master’s land, Hugh must find out just who did the dirty deed and why. Hugh responds to his task with persevering dedication long after most would have given up. But not Hugh, an intrepid bailiff with a conscience. What the reader gets is a wonderful look into medieval society and a whodunit with a most engaging sleuth.
Starr’s books are well-researched and have a very authentic feel. He uncovers the workings of the English feudal system, medieval church practices and medical techniques of the times. He also delivers a very satisfying mystery without benefit of crime scene technicians and forensic labs. Hugh uses his brains and very rudimentary detection devices — hoof prints in the mud, descriptions of the perpetrators and eyewitness accounts. Starr’s main character is also a witty chronicler of day to day life in medieval England. If you like mysteries and have a penchant for the Middle Ages, I recommend you pick up Starr’s books. The Tainted Coin is book 5 in the series (all can be read as standalones) so you will have many hours of enjoyable reading.
(Thank you to Kregel for a copy of The Tainted Coin. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)