By S J Parris
|Value for money||7/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||7/10|
Murky murder mysteries and complex catholic conspiracies
I thoroughly enjoyed S J Parris’ first novel, Heresy, likening it to a Tudor Inspector Morse tale, and was delighted to be offered the chance to review a pre-publication copy of this second story starring the same protagonists.
In this story the heretical monk, Giordano Bruno, is back at the French Embassy in Elizabethan London, where he is drawn rapidly into both a catholic conspiracy to invade England, and a related murder mystery when two of the queen’s ladies in waiting meet very sticky ends.
The style is very similar to the first book, with Bruno trying to both uncover the truths about the murders, and navigate complex relationships with the other characters. The tale is again told in the first person, but here it makes a bit more sense as you get to understand Bruno’s concerns, guilt and frustrations, and the motivation for some of his deeds.
I loved the period detail, particularly the descriptions of Elizabethan versions of well-known London locations. In this book Parris also makes much more use of actual events and personalities, such as Francis Walsingham, William Cecil and John Dee. I could almost hear some of the dialogue being spoken by Geoffrey Rush and Richard Attenborough.
The story is a real page-turner with a steady pace which kept my attention right to the end. However, if I have a slight criticism, it’s that some plot twists, such as the murderer’s identity, seemed to be signalled very early, while at other times key actions were taken by characters who had not been introduced.
These are minor failings, and overall this is a very enjoyable romp. I look forwards to Bruno’s next outing.