The Tainted Coin

Title:  The Tainted Coin (Hugh de Singleton #5)
Author:  Melvin R. Starr
Pages:  221
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Monarch Books
                Mel Starr continues his medieval mystery series featuring Hugh de Singleton with this entry of The Tainted Coin.  Hugh still is the bailiff and surgeon for Bampton, serving Lord Gilbert.  However, now he is a father of 1-year-old Bessie.
                One early morning Hugh is called from his bed to attend a severely injured man, who has made it to the porch of St. Andrew’s Chapel.  The curate, the former nefarious John Kellet, runs to Hugh for help.  The man utters a single sentence before dying, but doesn’t say who beat him.  What he does say puts Hugh at the start of the trail of another murder investigation.  With the trusty Arthur, the groomsman, by his side, Hugh discovers the man’s cart and horse not too far away still full of the goods he pedaled.  Why was he beaten if not for his goods?  Who was the man?
                Hugh searches nearby towns and discovers the man’s identity as well as treasure in his unoccupied home.  Hugh takes the treasure back to his home, thinking to deliver it to the castle the next day.  He is away from home on the next day and arrives home to find his wife gagged and bound, his daughter lying next to her unharmed, and the treasure gone.  Hugh vows to find the thieves who dared to frighten his wife and child.  These same thieves Hugh uncovers are also the murderers of Mr. Thrale, the peddler.
                Over the course of his investigation, he encounters other characters that develop into a subplot.  This subplot soon escalates and finds Hugh and Lord Gilbert disagreeing.  Hugh feels so strongly about the issue that he tells Lord Gilbert he will resign his position if Lord Gilbert proceeds according to man’s law.  Isn’t God’s law higher?  Lord Gilbert gives him two weeks to resolve the situation or he will proceed and Hugh can leave.  How is Hugh going to solve this other problem while still trying to find evidence to support his theory about who killed Mr. Thrale?  Is there more treasure to be found?
                I’ve read all the books in this series and this one seems to have a weaker plot than the others.  I still enjoyed reading about how people lived in medieval times, but I didn’t enjoy to book overall as much as the others.  A sixth book in the series is already in the works and the first chapter is included at the end of The Tainted Coin.  I’m not writing the series off as of yet and plan on reading about Hugh’s next adventure.
My rating is 3 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at
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