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The Trial

Novel by James Darke (England) 1983.

John Ferris, still trying to honour the vow of vengeance he swore in The Prisoner by killing the notorious witchfinder Robert Monk, falls into a trap set by his nemesis and becomes his prisoner. As they travel to Hertford where Monk tortured and hanged Ferris's parents and plans to do likewise with him, his only hope is a dishonest tinker, who has promised to deliver a message to his comrade, Brutus York. Can Brutus rescue him before he is put to the question? Will Ferris rescue his beloved Mary? Will Monk finally end up getting his just rewards? Only time will tell, and there is precious little of that left.

Yes, this is starting to sound like a Saturday morning cliffhanger serial, which is in effect what it really is. The idea is extremely basic: Ferris is trying to kill Monk, pure and simple. That's it. But Laurence James' job as 'James Darke' is to use various plot devices to bring his hero close to his aim - ever so close - yet not quite close enough to warrant an end to his quest, so that we have to wait until next week's episode (or the next book in the series) to watch it all happen again. But for formulaic hack fiction, this has a certain exploitative charm. And if the plot doesn't capture your attention you can always play at second guessing the author as regards who's going to die next, and how, and when, etc etc.


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