When Thomas atte Bridge is found hung from a tree in the village, Master Hugh, bailiff of Bampton Manor, accompanies the town coroner to the great oak. There, Thomas' wife is sobbing, holding his knees while many of the villagers look on.
At first, it looks like a suicide but Master Hugh finds the evidence to the contrary. Thomas has a busted lip, broken tooth, mud on the heels of his shoes and redness on his wrists. He is sure someone murdered him. However, the coroner declares it a suicide and Thomas must be buried on unhallowed ground. It's against the church to kill oneself and he can't be buried in its grounds.
Master Hugh is sure he knows who killed Thomas, John Kellet, a priest gone bad who was in the area at the time of Thomas' demise. However, upon his investigation, he finds out that John is incapable mentally and physically to have killed Thomas and Master Hugh must investigate further. No one liked Thomas' and no one minds his loss, but Master Hugh is determined to find out who killed him.
Unhallowed Ground is a complex mystery set in the 1300's. Starr does a fantastic job of recreating that time era and bringing the details vibrantly to life. The characters are compelling and the plot tight, keeping the reader motivated to follow the clues. The fourth in the Hugh de Singleton mysteries, Unhallowed Ground can be read as a stand-alone novel. The first of the series that I have read, I look forward to going back and reading the first three, The Unquiet Bones, A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel and A Trail of Ink.
This series is really growing on me,I find it's slower pace soothing like The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. You do need to read in order because they build on each other with previous storylines being reintroduced. This was another pleasant visit to the Middle Ages with murder and mayhem thrown in the mix.