After writer Martin Smythe survived the horrors of Morbing Vyle he’s hot on the trail of the evil vicar involved. Delving through the musty records of the Church of England he discovered a manuscript written by Hungarian bank clerk Basil Smorta. It is an account of how, through a freak combination of circumstances, wound up in club Zut-Alors on an October night in 1894, where he saw famed Australian Songbird Volusia and fell irrevocably in lust. And love. A consequence of which was his embroilment in the Black Crusade – a group of New Believers hell bent on ushering in a new age of death, torment and destruction.
After Lynn’s amused review I was quite looking forward to reading The Black Crusade, but – even though I initially followed her advice and read it interspersed among other reading – it didn’t grab me at all. The style is interesting - a first person narrative annotated by a third party – and though we’ve seen it before (eg The Athenian Murders) this was the first comedic version. I did quite enjoy the proliferation of footnotes, ostensibly inserted by the publishers, but they were insufficient to compensate for the novel’s manifold flaws. The hero is turgid, the heroine both insane and uninteresting, the villains caricaturistic, and the plot meandering and pointless. I finished the novel, and – reminded by having the book in front of me to write the review – I may even visit the website (www.vilewatch.com) but even though my library has a Harland trilogy that I was previously considering borrowing, I think it’ll be a long while before I revisit Mr Harland’s writing. – Alex
 We never learn what happened at Morbing Vyle, which is irrelevant to the story of The Black Crusade. Similarly we hear no more from or about Martin Smythe after the preface.
 Yes, the pun there is intentional – we here at The Bookish believe that the occasional pun adds a layer of depth to what might otherwise be an uninteresting and possibly pallid review.
 As the footnotes repeatedly point out – a far better hero would have been the Imperial Cavalry officer
 A word I have just now created, which means “resembling but not actually being caricatures”
To read Lynn's review of this book, click here