THE TINNER'S CORPSE by Bernard Knight
Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster) - August 2001
ISBN 0671029665 - Paperback
Mystery / British Historical - Devon, England / Year 1759

Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde,
Buy 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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