It takes considerable skill in the writing of historical fiction to make the reader share the characters’ sense of oppressive uncertainty about the future. S J Parris’s series about the sleuth, spy and renegade monk, Giordano Bruno, recreates the atmosphere of Queen Elizabeth I’s England in all its vivid paranoia ... Throw in some old enemies, a beautiful widow and a mysterious manuscript which may be a lost gospel and this is a book to make you long for filthy weather, a deep armchair and a thick blanket ... There are echoes of C J Sansom’s Shardlake series here. But Parris is better than the usual run of imitators. Her prose is taut and compelling. Her wielding of the historical material is always convincing but never overwhelming ... The real strength of the series is its protagonist. Witty, brilliant, bookish Bruno is a delight of a narrator. His relationship with his friend Sir Philip is deftly drawn; full of light and shade ... If, after reading these enthralling, thrilling books you want to find out how it ends for the real Bruno, do not be tempted to Google him. You will be too fond of Parris’s creation to bear the end of the story. Let the fictional Bruno sleuth on for many more instalments, ferreting out papists and chasing rare books.
[Giordano Bruno] is a gift of a character, and SJ Parris clearly relishes his potential. Treachery is the fourth Bruno novel from Parris (the pseudonym of Observer writer Stephanie Merritt), and it’s pacy, intricate and frequently thrilling ... As with the previous titles, Treachery is full of historical detail and rich with atmosphere; Parris is good on the smells and the slop of the time, the grime and the stink, the midden heaps and the taint of the pox. Yet while she knows this world well, the research never drags things down or impedes the pleasingly knotty plot ... The murky backstreets of Elizabethan Plymouth are colourfully evoked, and Parris is skilled at blending characters drawn from history with those of her own invention, while saturating everything with her evident fascination with the politics of the period. And yet there’s a sense of water being trod, of writer and characters all looking towards the future, the next instalment and the dark fate that awaits Bruno.
Murder on a ship and a dangerously blasphemous book: Giordano Bruno, SJ Parris's heretic and spy, is back, and ready to apply his prodigious mind to another deadly puzzle ... An evil bookseller and a terrifying brothel lie ahead; what's not to like? ... Gripping and fun.