The first coroner for the county of Devon, an ex-crusader appointed by Richard the Lionheart, takes on his first case when an unidentified body turns up in a lonely moorland village. The coroner must find a way to identify the body and bring its murderer to justice.
Hindering his efforts are demarcation disputes between him and his brother-in-law the sheriff. And as if that wasn’t making life difficult enough, things become even trickier once the dead man is identified and his accused murderer claims the protection of the church.
But the coroner braves disputes personal, professional and domestic to see that justice is done.
As the first book in a series I understand that a bit of time needs to be spent establishing the history, credentials and personalities of the main characters, unfortunately on occasion such detail actually got in the way of an otherwise good story. Having said that, the characters were realistically portrayed historical figures with all the ideals, morality and petty grievances of their time, not just modern people dumped into a historical setting. I particularly liked the prickly relationship between the coroner and his wife; a woman I hope to see developed in later books.
This book offered an interesting twist on the crime genre. Even though the motive was clearly recognisable to a modern day reader and the investigative techniques not wholly unfamiliar, the historical detail (such as trial by ordeal) imparted a fresh feel to the comfortably familiar story.
I will be reading more Coroner John mysteries-Lynn