77) Bernard Knight — the Witch Hunter
The eighth in a crime fiction series set in the twelfth century, following the cases of Crowner John, a knight who has been appointed as the first coroner of Devon by Richard the Lionheart. This was the first I’d read, and will be the last even though I have another in the TBR pile, because it was a Did Not Finish for me.
Even though the elements of the story should have been a draw for me, I found it hard to get into, and the lead character hard to like. Things came to a head for me with the scene where it becomes clear that Sir John ignores his wife in favour of not one but multiple mistresses. It may be historically accurate, and the author was at pains to then tell us that John’s marriage was a failure but that neither party was at fault, it having been a political marriage that both were forced into by their families — but that’s the problem for me. Having shown us a miserable marriage where John’s wife seems to be an unreasonable shrew, Knight then tells us rather than shows us what the problem in the marriage is. I don’t find infidelity an appealing characteristic in a lead character unless it’s carefully grounded, and while this may have been partly to do with my coming in several books in, it focused my attention on the real problem I had with the book — too much telling and not enough showing for my tastes, and both in the wrong places. After three chapters, I wanted to know the end of the story, but not enough to read the chapters in between. So not a complete failure, but not a series to add to my reading list.