S. J. Parris


""The details and the historical accuracy in ‘Sacrilege’ are so potent they bring Bruno and the places he visits immediately to me in my armchair. " "


In this, the third book of S.J.Parris' series about Bruno, spy for Walsingham and Elizabeth I, the tension and nervousness around the Queen is heightened by the attempted assassination of the Protestant Prince William of Orange. There is a genuine fear that the militant Catholics in the realm will plot for the downfall of Elizabeth. Add to that the threat of the plague hitting the streets of London and you have a very uneasy city.

Bruno finds that he is being followed around the streets and he is worried. When he finds the tracker is Sophia, a woman for whom he has a strong attraction, he is both relieved and troubled. She wants him to visit Canterbury, where she is suspected of murdering her husband, in order to clear her name. Walsingham is happy for him to travel to Canterbury as Bruno can take the opportunity to investigate rumours of possible Catholic plotting in the heart of the cathedral city.

What he finds is that there are some who are faithful to the memory of the murdered saint Thomas Beckett and who are prepared to go to any lengths to restore his shrine and Catholicism to England. Moreover, his investigation into the death of Sophia's husband, and her own motives are anything but straightforward.

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The outstanding merit of these books to me is the immediacy and vividness of the writing. The details and the historical accuracy in 'Sacrilege' are so potent they bring Bruno and the places he visits immediately to me in my armchair. I am there in the smells, the sounds and the sights of Elizabethan England. Add to that, the exciting and terrifying plot which takes you back to a time when the simplest things can make you vulnerable to accusations of treachery, and suspicion alone is enough to lead you to imprisonment or death, and you have the recipe for an utterly thrilling and gripping story. The fact that Bruno was indeed a real person who negotiated the troubled times only adds to the enjoyment. Tudor England is a fascinating and favourite period of history and Bruno, who stands apart from the sectarian parties of the time is an ideal commentator on the era. To some he is Catholic; to others he is Protestant. To himself he is a philosopher who appreciates England, as Elizabeth professes a more liberal approach to religion than some of her counterparts on the continent. This book is a considered and accomplished work that should stands on its own merit.

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