Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Review: "Heresy"

Heresy (Doubleday, 2010), by S.J. Parris (the pseudonym of journalist Stephanie Merritt) is a well-paced historical thriller starring the real-life Giordano Bruno. Sent to Oxford to take part in a cosmological debate (and to secretly ferret out some information for Walsingham about the underground Catholic culture in the university town), Bruno quickly finds himself drawn into a grisly series of murders, a library containing forbidden books, and many characters who are not at all what they seem (a la Name of the Rose &c.).

I was pleased with the way Parris worked in the real tensions of the Elizabethan period, as secret Catholics tried to keep their jobs and positions while attempting to maintain their personal faith (necessarily in secret). She weaves Bruno into that nicely.

An excellent addition to the genre, with some good characters (including the seditious and "saucy foul mouthed Bookseller" Rowland Jenkes) who I hope might be sketched more completely in later works (this is projected to be the first in a series).

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