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Friday, July 09, 2010

Heresy by S.J. Parris

Parris, S. J.  Heresy.

In 1583, Elizabeth I is on the throne of England and trying to keep the political and religious turmoil in check.

Her Secretary of State (and spymaster), Sir Francis Walsingham handled both espionage and domestic security.  He had close ties with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and his son-in-law was Sir Philip Sidney. Among his reported "intelligencers" were Christopher Marlowe and Giordano Bruno.  All but Marlowe play a role in this historical mystery.

The fictional version of Giordano Bruno finds himself recruited by Walsingham and is to accompany his friend Sir Philip Sidney to Oxford, ostensibly to take part in a debate, but also on a mission to uncover secret Catholics suspected of plotting treason.

Bruno finds himself trying to solve a gruesome murder that may or may not have to do with those involved in treason.  When another murder is discovered, Bruno is under even greater pressure to solve the mystery, stop the murderer, and prevent the treasonous plot.

If you are familiar with the characters and events of the time period, the sense of paranoia and fear of betrayal are even more palpable.  Those who have enjoyed the Matthew Shardlake novels by C.J. Sansom will enjoy this novel that has made use of extensive research into the period, folding real events and real characters into a fictional mystery.

Fiction.  Historical Mystery.  2010.  448 pages.


  1. Another one that sounds good to me. Onto the list it goes. I'm intrigued with this period of time and feel a bit of sympathy towards Queen Mary. She seems so lonely, paranoid, and filled with religious indignation. Definitely would not trade places with her.

  2. I love this period to read about, but I'm thankful not to have lived it.

    Being queen was dangerous for both Mary and Elizabeth -- who to trust? Elizabeth was more successful than Mary in making judgments about who was trustworthy and who was not.

  3. I know only a little about this time period -- enough to know I would not have wanted to live through it, especially not as a royal!

    I just realized I haven't been here in forever. I paged down and down and down and goodness . . . I had no idea how much I've missed. I hope you'll forgive me for just commenting here because if I'm so far behind on your blog, I'm probably just as bad elsewhere.

    I just reread your review of The Magicians. I got a copy of it at my library sale, today (an ARC). I remembered your review but since it was only a quarter, I figured I can abandon it if I think it's as awful as you did.

    Hope you're having a good summer!

  4. I like historical mysteries. I may try this one. Thanks for the review

  5. bookfool - I've read both fiction and nonfiction about this period since I was a kid. It was an exciting and dangerous time to be alive.

    Hope you enjoy The Magicians better than I did; can't wait to see what you think!

    bookmagic - Historical mysteries are "twofers" -- I love them!

  6. I have a copy of this one to read and am looking forward to it. I love a good historical mystery.

  7. :) Wendy, I remember looking in the window of an old bookshop in Oxford years ago and had fun imagining Bruno as he strolled the cobbled streets of the town!

  8. I have recently become addicted to The Tudors, thanks to Netflix, and find their family very interesting. I am putting this one on my TBR list. Thanks!

  9. I also like that time period, but the more I read about it the less I would have liked to live in it.

    A great book I read is The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.

    Rebecca, it's a great book and would give you a lot of background info for The Tudors.

  10. Rebecca - The novel has a lot of excellent research; I hope you enjoy it if you get a copy.

    Man of La Books -- I haven't read Weir's book, but Lady Antonia Fraser's the Wives of Henry VIII is also excellent!