THE TINNER'S CORPSE
by Bernard Knight
Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster) - August 2001
ISBN 0671029665 - Paperback
Mystery / British Historical - Devon, England / Year 1759
A Hyde, MyShelf.com
a UK Copy
There are quite a few
mediaeval whodunits on the bookshelves these days but few of them manage
to dispense with modernity and immerse the reader quite so deeply in the
past as Knight's series. This time in his fifth outing as Coroner Sir
John has to contend with the might of the Stannary laws as it is a tinner
who is found murdered and more bodies soon follow. He also has to contend
with his termagant wife - which is the only jarring note as surely a man
like that would not have put up with Matilda so docilely in those days
- and a depressed Thomas who wants to return to the clergy as well as
a young contender for his innkeeper mistress.
Knight has done his
homework about life in Devon in the 12th century and recreates marvelously
well the uncertain environment of King Richard away on the Crusades and
wanting more and more money and King John on the throne.
It is a time of brutal
punishments and when even a whisper of treason guaranteed a bloody end.
Exeter-based Coroner Sir John de Wolfe and his two sidekicks exist in
the grim, gritty and uncertain environment of the 1190s and are a world
away from the usual descriptions of the Robin Hood period.
This isn't to say that
it is all muck and misery though as there are plenty of lighter moments
but at the end of each book I am left with the feeling that I have visited
the Middle Ages. A good, twisting plot too which adds up to a fine new
addition to a series that started fairly good but gets better and better.
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