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The Witchfinders

Novel by Ralph Comer 1968.

Robert Lawson goes to Winchmere where he flies his kite with his young nephews. Robert Lawson goes up in the air in his glider and has to land in a field. Robert Lawson... Yes, this starts as subdued as a Rupert Bear strip and it takes a long while to become anything else. But Robert Lawson is also a photographer working on a newspaper feature on Winchmere Hall, an ancient British stately home. And at Winchmere Hall there's an ancient and weirdly occult painting recently uncovered from its hiding place behind a wall, there's a strange 'hole' in the air above the Winchmere obelisk, and there looks like being a coven of witches operating in the area.

Ralph Comer takes a long while to get into his story, but once he's there he has a different slant on witchcraft which is interesting, mixing folklore, religion and fate into a strange mix. The writer on Lawson's story, a man named Cullender, is a more traditional hero to an occult tale, though he doesn't appear for the first fifty pages. He is a writer, specialising in the unexplained, who is knowledgeable, inquisitive and good at getting himself into trouble. Robert Lawson, on the other hand, is an average guy who gets in over his head, but has a store of resourcefulness to rely on. Between the pair of them, they make a pretty decent character base for the author to build his plot on. But the plot isn't that strenous and Ralph Comer doesn't do enough else to turn this into anything but a curiosity.


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