Historical Fiction: Heresy, by SJ Parris

4.0 out of 5 stars On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Religious persecution is raging across Europe. Giordano Bruno has spent the past seven years eluding the Inquisition, while struggling to persist in his scientific and philosophical (i.e., heretical) studies and writings. Through his connections with England’s Sydney family, Bruno is recruited by spymaster Walsingham to ferret out underground Catholics at Oxford University. No sooner does he arrive than one of the college fellows meets a brutal death. Strangely, the victim’s colleagues do not seem interested in discovering how and why, until more gruesome murders, all based upon saintly martyrdoms, occur.
Distrusted as a stranger who once was Catholic, Bruno sets out to find out what’s going on in Oxford’s hallowed halls. Author Parris has woven a captivating mystery around the suspicions, paranoia, and twisted morality that so dominated those living in the late Tudor era, from highest born to lowliest. “No man in Oxford is what he seems,” warns a subrector, and Bruno nearly loses his own life while discovering the truth of that statement. Secret tower rooms, priest “hides”, clandestine masses, and dark, dank weather all contribute to the menacing atmosphere. And, as so often happens in the current day and age, political maneuvers and moral dilemmas forestall the deliverance of true justice.

Part historical novel and part mystery, this book should appeal to fans of either genre.

This review is based upon an advance reader copy provided by Amazon.com.

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