The Awful Secret by Bernard Knight (Fiction)

posted 25 Mar 2010, 03:28 by DP Durlston-Powell   [ updated 25 Mar 2010, 04:19 ]
Backcover blurb:

Gilbert de Rideford is a Knight of the Temple of Solomon, and an old acquaintance from Crowner John's crusading days. He claims to have come into possession of a secret that could shake Christendom to its very foundations - and he desperately needs John's help to escape from the secretive order of warrior monks. Suddenly swpet into a world of religious intrigue and dangerous politics, Sir John de Wolfe finds himself undertaking a life-threatening mission to the island of Lundy - inhabited solely by notorious pirates - and uncovering the extraordinary truth behind the awful secret itself.

Books from the same author:
The Sanctuary Seeker by Bernard Knight (Fiction)
The Poisoned Chalice by Bernard Knight (Fiction)
Crowner's Quest by Bernard Knight (Fiction)

My thoughts:

Worst book of the series so far and I hope that it isn't a sign of things to come as it has an 'also-ran' plot that just doesn't hold together, characters acting out of character and a failed attempt to cross genres. With so many second rate Templar conspiracy novels out there, it seemed like a nice change to read about them when they were at their height in the context of the historical setting that Knight has so carefully and vividly developed. However, having read some of the usual books that pass for research for Templar conspiracy novels, Knight has decided that there was evidence of wrongdoing more than 100 years before Philip IV brutal overthrowing of the Templars. There is scant enough academic evidence for the claims within The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail or Bloodline of the Holy Grail and none for the main thrust of this novel, that there was any suggestion of such activities in 1195. As a result, this book takes a large step away from being based in historical fact and ties itself to the mast of conspiratorial conjecture in a way that just doesn't sit well with the earlier books of the series. Things are not helped by the dislocation between the two plots in the book - the pirates being investigated are not from Lundy as the blurb suggests, nor do any of the pirates nor Lundy have anything to do with the Templar plot. Then come the plot holes: the knights and future inquisitor that follow de Rideford to Devon cannot find him at de Wolfe's family estate when the newly arrived de Blanchefort can manage immediately it with less evidence; rather than hiding de Blanchefort away safely until the Templars and Cosimo leave, the Crowner has him carted around Devon always just a stone's throw away from the people searching for him; and Cosimo overlooks de Wolfe's stunt with Gwyn outside Exeter cathedral. None of these are likely, nor plausible and yet are essential to keeping the threadbare plot staggering forward to its thankful demise. With luck, Knight will have got the big-seller bandwagon jumping plot devices out of his system with this book and can return to the far better standard he had set with his previous Crowner John tales. This fare only just avoided hitting the worst 5 listing!

Verdict:

It's no awful secret, this is an awful book. Let's hope for a return to form in future outings for Crowner John.
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