Deeds of Darkness

Written by Mel Starr

In Deeds of Darkness, the tenth installment of the Hugh de Singleton medieval mystery series, the titular character Hugh, Oxford surgeon, is called to help investigate a murder. The victim turns out to be one of his friends, Hubert. He had been killed, while traveling between Oxford and Bampton, by a group of goliards, a band of lawless young men who had at one time been scholars but had, for one reason or another, left their studies before they finished their degrees. Hugh has to figure out ways to deal with them when they have protection that is far above him in social rank, and to bring his friend’s killer to justice. As Hugh investigates, more murders occur, and the pressure increases to uncover the identity of the men responsible for the crimes.

As with all of Starr’s previous novels, Deeds of Darkness is chock full of thoroughly researched detail and interesting tidbits of daily medieval life. The characters are well fleshed-out and believable, making readers either care a great deal about their well-being or hope they really get a good comeuppance. Hugh remains an intriguing man, complex and honest without being annoyingly pedantic, as some protagonists can be. Most of the secondary characters are pretty well rounded, though I felt that Kate, Hugh’s wife, was overlooked. To be fair, she doesn’t have a large role in this novel, but she seemed like an afterthought. Overall, though, this is a fine addition not only to the Hugh de Singleton series but to the medieval mystery genre as a whole.