cover image A Plague of Heretics

A Plague of Heretics

Bernard Knight, Pocket U.K. (IPG, dist.), $8.99 mass market (382p) ISBN 978-1-847393-29-6

Devon coroner John de Wolfe confronts the twin specters of contagion and religious violence in Knight's workmanlike 14th Crowner John mystery (after 2009's Crowner Royal). In late 1196, de Wolfe attempts to solve several grisly killings, starting with a man dumped in an isolated area outside the Exeter city wall who had his throat cut and his tongue ripped out, but the plague also stalking the region's inhabitants distracts him from his investigation. Church authorities increase the pressure after the murder victims prove to be heretics who opposed papal authority. A wealth of historical detail and a compelling protagonist who's believably a man of his age will be enough to satisfy some readers, but others may be disappointed by a plot with little suspense and few surprises. (Feb.)