This review is from: Prophecy (Giordano Bruno 2) (Paperback)
I've been sitting here for about ten minutes trying to think what to write Suffice to say, reading another Tudor period book straight after Bring Up the Bodies was probably not such a great idea And Prophecy is not such a great book - it's not awful, either, it's just rather average.
I've read a fair number of historical murder/mystery/thrillers and I am quite a fan of the sub-genre. I read S. J. Parris's first 'Giordano Bruno' novel, Heresy, a few months ago and pretty much all of my issues with that book are repeated here, apart from one notable one: Giordano Bruno himself. Okay, so he was a real person, but - in this book - he is one of the most incompetent and ineffective agents you can imagine. He stumbles about from one dangerous situation to another, is handed clues on a plate (rather than by actual investigation), allows vital evidence and even suspects to escape, for no better reason than because the book would be much shorter if he didn't do so. For almost the whole book he worries that he is being followed, so every time he goes outside Parris repeats his feelings of being watched. And yet, despite this feeling he has, he still ducks into dark alleys. Hmm, I wonder what's going to happen. D'oh! It gets tiresome very quickly. And he is a worryingly two-dimensional character. There is no hint of humour or depth about him. His internal monologues are also repetitive; he worries about this, he worries about that, then a few pages later he worries about them all over again.
It's not that I think S. J. Parris (or, to give her her real name, Stephanie Jane Merritt) is a poor writer (she's doing a damned sight better than me at it, after all!), but I didn't feel there was any verve or style to the writing, the sort of turn of phrase or characterisation or excitement that picks you up and sweeps you along for the ride. Unlike the first book, and very much like Hilary Mantel, she decided to write this one in the present tense. It should, in theory, provide a lot of momentum, driving the story forward. However, instead of conveying the sense of time and place through character and action, she does it through page after page of monotonous description. The book frequently gets bogged down in this mire, which is a shame, and it failed to excite me on any level because any sense of tension flies out of the window.
I think I probably read this at completely the wrong time, straight after such a masterpiece, but I looked back at my comments on Heresy and realised that nothing had changed. You would, perhaps, expect there to be an improvement and evolution in both the characters and writing between the first and second books but I didn't really get that feeling. I did like that it was set in London this time, though.