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The Awful Secret by Bernard Knight
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The Awful Secret (2000)

by Bernard Knight

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Fourth in the Crowner John medieval mystery series set in 1200’s Devon, UK. When a Templar Knight—or rather, an ex-Templar who has now left the order—who fought with John in Outremer seeks his assistance while he waits for a cohort to arrive, the coroner reluctantly agrees. When he finds out that Gilbert is now considered a heretic who has an ‘awful secret’ about the Church that the Templars are suppressing, and is being pursued not only by three higher-ups in the Templar Order, but by a papal nuncio who is part of the Inquisition, John curses the moment he pledged his help, but stands by his word. When the ex-Templar turns up dead, obviously murdered, John must then investigate even though his suspicions lie with the Church, whom he has no authority to question. A secondary plot deals with piracy off the coast of Devon and brings the Crowner to Ilfracombe and Barnstaple, which are familiar to me as my DH’s sister lives in that area. I did guess the bad guy way ahead of time in this one and didn’t think the story was quite as good as some of the others in this series—or maybe I’ve just been “DaVinci Coded” to death—but I still enjoyed it as I like the setting and the characters in this series. ( )
  Spuddie | Sep 26, 2008 |
A general review of this series:

This is back in the good old days of law enforcement, when trial by combat was definitive and would-be plea bargainers had to fight their accomplice(s) to the death.

I find these books fascinating as living history, perhaps even more than as mysteries. Knight always starts off with a glossary of terms. The period is not romanticized, but neither is it overly repulsive.

Sir John de Wolfe went crusading with Richard the Lionheart. Now back in England, he has been appointed to the newly reconstituted office of Crowner (Coroner). He fights a pitched battle with his corrupt, treacherous brother-in-law, the Sheriff, over official territory. He is very unhappily married to Matilda, his incompatible wife; their relationship makes sleeping in peasant huts while on duty a treat. One of the things that makes it interesting, is that although Sir John is the central character, and presumably to be regarded with sympathy, his marital problems are not entirely blamed upon his wife. The characters are generally somewhat complex.

John is assisted in his duties by his gigantic man of arms, Gywn of Polruan, and his clerk, Thomas de Payne, a frail, defrocked priest.

In this volume, two Knights Templar fleeing their order with a dangerous secret want Sir John's help. ( )
  juglicerr | Jun 11, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743492080, Paperback)

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 foundations—and he desperately needs John's help to escape from the secretive order of warrior monks. Suddenly swept into a world of religious intrigue and dangerous politics, Crowner John finds himself undertaking a life-threatening mission to the Island of Lundy—inhabited solely by notorious pirates—until finally the awful secret itself is revealed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:09 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Gilbert de Rideford is a Knight of the Temple of Solomon, and an acquaintance from John and Gwyn's crusading days. He claims to have an awful secret that could shake Christendom to its very foundations and desperately needs John's help to escape from the secretive order of warrior monks.… (more)

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