The Elixir of Death

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Overview

1195. Prince Johnplots to seize the throne from his brother, Richard the Lionheart - and in his wicked schemes he is supported by King Philip of France, who offers to help John financially by sending him a mysterious alchemist, a Mohammedan named Nizam, who claims to be able to transmute base metals into gold. But the ship which was transporting Nizam and his retainers to the Devon tin mines is found wrecked off the south Devon coast, its crew savagely slaughtered.
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The Elixir of Death

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Overview

1195. Prince Johnplots to seize the throne from his brother, Richard the Lionheart - and in his wicked schemes he is supported by King Philip of France, who offers to help John financially by sending him a mysterious alchemist, a Mohammedan named Nizam, who claims to be able to transmute base metals into gold. But the ship which was transporting Nizam and his retainers to the Devon tin mines is found wrecked off the south Devon coast, its crew savagely slaughtered.
Shortly afterwards, Sir Peter le Calve, a Norman knight living near Exeter, is foully murdered, being part-crucified and beheaded, his head stuck on the rood screen of the cathedral.
It's up to Sir John de Wolfe, the county coroner, to find a motive and connection between the killings. And just what is his unscrupulous brother-in-law, the disgraced ex-sheriff and known Prince John-sympathiser, Richard de Revelle, trying to hide?

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Editorial Reviews

Evening Standard
Crowner John is a splendid character, full of imperfections and faults, but ultimately the triumphing hero.
Kirkus Reviews
County Coroner Sir John de Wolfe (Figure of Hate, 2005, etc.) investigates a series of brutal murders in 12th-century England. The discovery of the murdered crew from a shipwreck off the south Devon coast is just the first in a string of atrocities. The captain was the husband of Sir John's former mistress Hilda, and his investigation troubles both his shrewish wife Matilda and his current mistress. The only clue is the word "Saracen," uttered by a dying crew member. After a series of horrific murders, all apparently related by the use of an unusual knife and crossbows with Arabic lettering, Sir John realizes that all the victims were connected to a disastrous crusade. Meanwhile, Sir John's disgraced brother-in-law Richard de Revelle, son of a crusader, is involved in a scheme to make money for Prince John, who's still trying to seize his brother's throne. The King of France has sent Nizam, a Mohammedan alchemist, to work with a Scot to turn base metal to gold, and Richard is providing them the supplies they need and a secret place to work. When Hilda goes on her own crusade to track down her husband's killers, she's made a prisoner, along with Matilda and Richard. Only Sir John's last-minute arrival saves the day. More adventure than mystery, Knight's tenth populates a detailed, almost scholarly study of the period with well-drawn characters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743492157
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
  • Publication date: 3/1/2007
  • Series: A Crowner John Series, #10
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor Bernard Knight, CBE, became a Home Office Pathologist in 1965 and was appointed Professor of Forensic Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, in 1980. During his 40-year career with the Home Office, he performed over 25,000 autopsies, and was involved in many high profile cases, including that of Fred and Rose West, and the child killer, Mary Bell. The author of numerous popular and academic non-fiction books, he has written thirteen novels in the Crowner John mystery series. Professor Knight lives in Cardiff.

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