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The Torture

Novel by James Darke (England) 1983.

In this third book in Laurence James' series of witchfinding adventures with dubious covers, begun by The Prisoner, John Ferris meets up with a mystic, Michael Conway, and his beautiful young wife Gwyneth, and they become friends and travelling companions. But when Michael forsees the death of the daughter of the local lord of the manor - a death which naturally soon follows, in the presence of her father - the trio find themselves imprisoned and awaiting trial for witchcraft. And Ferris's nemesis, witchfinder Robert Monk, is only a few miles away...

Still blatant formula fiction, this entry in the series marks the first signs of Laurence James's very real talent: the plot proceeds at an even pace, and action, emotion and tension are handled with unexpected skill, given the lack of anything at all to recommend the last couple of books in the series. And the first interesting characters - the seer, Michael Conway; the mad priest, the Revd Smith - give this another edge over its predecessors. But they are still loosely fleshed out, and however much an improvement this is over the first two books, it is still for exploitation fans only.


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