The Tinner’s Corpse (The Crowner John Mysteries Book 5)

Written by Bernard Knight
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

Poor Crowner John! The unseasonably cold weather of April 1195 is the last of his many woes. His shrewish wife is bent on making his life a misery; his mistress is having second thoughts; his young clerk – a defrocked priest – is lost in deepest melancholy; his brother-in-law, the Sheriff of Exeter, is scheming behind his back; his job as the only King’s Coroner for the whole County of Devon is growing unmanageable… So, when a tin-miner is found dead at the edge of Dartmoor, the ensuing jurisdiction squabble is just in keeping with the rest: who is to deal with the death – the sheriff, the tinners themselves under their numerous privileges, or the Royal courts? Of course, Sir John de Wolfe is not the sort to let others push him aside, and his general ill-humour makes him all the more determined to unravel the tangle of further death, tin-mining politics, and assorted family troubles.

This is the fifth instalment in the Crowner John series, telling the adventures of a sleuth with little resource in the way of forensics, and a still unsettled legal authority: a little heavy on the exposition (especially when it comes to mining) – but unusual and interesting.