The King’s Corrodian

Written by Pat McIntosh
Review by Gordon O'Sullivan

A widely disliked lay pensioner, the corrodian of the title, has seemingly vanished from a locked chamber within Perth’s Dominican priory, and the Devil himself has been seen abroad that night. Gil Cunningham, a Quaestor or criminal investigator, is sent to dig into this mystery, and his questions soon elicit accounts of blackmail, theft, nasty secrets and ancient murder within and without the walls of the priory. As the bodies start to mount up, Gil has to rely on his wits and the educated insight of his wife, Alys, to solve this damnable puzzle.

This is the tenth novel in a continuing historical detective series set in 15th-century Scotland and featuring Gil Cunningham, and that extensive backstory shows with the main returning characters being very well-drawn and the background period detail both authentic and authoritative. This particular tale is a fairly convoluted but finally satisfying mystery which moves forward at a fair clip. The only real weakness for this reader was the amount of dialect used in the dialogue throughout the novel, which can make the conversations hard to follow at times but which is often leavened by a wee dollop of humour. The King’s Corrodian is, in the end, an enjoyable mystery.