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Fascinating subject let down by bad writing
on 12 May 2014
Very few people are aware of the ferocity and savagery of the Inquisition in Portugal, which far surpassed the horrors of that in Spain. This book covers the appalling acts of the "old Christians" against the “new Christians”, or "conversos", Jews who had been forcibly baptised, but practised their Judaism in secret and were burnt to death in huge pyres in the central Rossio square in Lisbon in their tens of thousands. Richard Zimler has used this background for a tortuous and confusing whodunit plot, introducing new characters throughout the book and gratuitous sex which is not to everyone's taste. His writing style is excruciating and makes the book heavy going. Better editing would have made the book more readable. Having met the author, who is charming, a voracious reader himself and passionate about the Jews of Portugal, where he now lives, it is difficult to believe he was capable of such bad writing.