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on 28 December 2012
The plot of Sacrilege romps along quite satisfactorily (after a slightly wooden start) and even gets quite pacy towards the end; but I was left with the distinct impression that I was being set up for the next book in the series. I could never quite grasp Giordano Bruno (does the name translate literally as Gordon Brown, or am I just being fanciful?) as a character, even though we have been given, quite skilfully, all the necessary facts. Given that this series is in direct competition with the Matthew Shardlake series of CJ Sansom, I feel it is quite fair to say here that I find myself less convinced and intrigued by Bruno than I do by Shardlake. So overall, this was a workmanlike tale of period mystery but it did not set my reading on fire.
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on 1 June 2016
Enjoyed the first book, found second repetitive and this even more so. Plots involve searches of dark spaces where hero notices something at last minute and hero almost killed but saved and outside intervention and hero duped by seeming friend. Characters point fingers into faces and always look angry, hateful, amused or whatever. Hero always has a sense of being followed and villains get their comeuppance.
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on 14 June 2015
After the first in the series I doubted I would bother with the rest; the deliberate imitation of C J Sansom in titles, design and even Merrit's choice of pseudonym were irritating. But I have done, and this third book seems less 'by the numbers' in its plotting. Her hero does still escape death with excessive frequency and ease, and villains do still conveniently explain their crimes to him before failing to finish him off, but not as much, or as unbelievably, as in the previous books.
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on 3 October 2016
This is the third book in the increasingly renowned Elizabethan detective series, involving the ex-monk, Bruno, now a heretic and proponent of a new enlightenment. As a fellow thriller writer, I would hail it as a brilliant encapsulation of the times and the tensions between the nascent Protestant Church of England and the long established European Catholicism – a dichotomy that divided Europe and gave rise to endless tensions and wars. I gather that the author has a special interest in the history of the period, having studied it at the University of Cambridge, UK.
The historical accuracy is all that one would anticipate in an expert of the period. This, combined with the thrills and spills and perfect pacing of a seasoned thriller writer, makes the book unputdownable. But there is another, and perhaps even more interesting, aspect that makes it rather special. This is the sexual power play, which really enlivens the narrative.
I would recommend it without hesitation to anyone who loves thrillers of any sort whatsoever – indeed I would recommend it to any lover of fiction.
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on 26 February 2014
I've loved these books since the first one came out and so far, as soon as I finish one, I'm champing at the bit for the next one. This time though, the plot seemed rather contrived and Bruno wasn't shown off to his best. I think the author was determined to bring Bruno and Sophia together again and the plot was shoehorned to fit, particularly as it was so obvious that she will turn up again like the proverbial bad penny. The supporting characters in Canterbury were a bit boring and predictable. The book was rescued by the author's usual attention to period detail and colour. I will still read the next Bruno instalment when it's published but I hope Sophia will left out of things for a very long time to come.
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on 9 September 2016
I like books set in the Tudor era, but I found this to be an okay but fairly mundane book that didn’t capture my imagination the way the Shardlake books do.

I thought it took a very long time to get going. When it did, the villains were almost pantomime sketches they were so obvious and it was also fairly clear how the murder mystery was going to end. The constant internal dialogue of the lead character became very repetitive and irritating - if was as if the author didn't have faith in the reader's intelligence and had to blatantly highlight every possible plot twist.

Overall it was an okay read but didn’t captivate me enough to make me want to read any more in the series.
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VINE VOICEon 27 April 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Giordano Bruno's third outing and each stronger than the last. S.J.Parris conjures up the atmosphere of Elizabethan England with some aplomb, the paranoia, the hopelessness of those with no power and the priviledge enjoyed by the few. This time Canterbury is the location and it's centre as a plot against Elizabeth. The City and Cathedral are well drawn, although I did feel that a map would have helped - but that may come in later editions (and this is a personal preference anyway).

As for the characters, Bruno continues to develop with the series as we learn more about him and he has become a credible hero. There's an assortment of suspicious and suitably malevolent locals, and, as the plot develops, almost anyone could be up to no good. Parris has devised a plot that covers several bases, politics, religion, a bit of romance, revenge, they are all in there without overwhelming the reader. Nor does Parris's enviable ability to convey time and place become the centre piece of the tale and the many stranded plot unfolds at a very satisfying pace.

I enjoyed this, and as a fan of the Shardlake novels, the highest praise I can give is that this was almost as good as those.
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on 28 October 2012
If you enjoy C.L.Sansom,s historical novels this collection of three which run into each other are definately worth a try. The character of the detective/ex monk is based on a real historical character as are a number of others in the books.There is a good deal of detailed background, especially that of place-Oxford and Canterbury are particularly interesting. The time is at the court of the aging Elizabeth, with plots and uprisings, particularly religious ones. An enjoyable read- not quite so detailed as Sansom but still well worth buying and reading.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 May 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the third book published by S J Parris following the hero Giordano Bruno's quest to find the lost book of Hermes Trismegistus, whilst investigating numerous murders and intrigues along the way. The mystery takes place in the 1590s when Elizabeth I was on the throne. I found the book to be very well researched and it gives an unbiased view of England at that time with all its religious and political undertones.

The main character Giordano Bruno is a former Italian monk who fled the Inquisition for his beliefs. He now finds himself acting as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham, the Queen's Secretary of State whilst following his own agenda searching for the valuable lost book. This mystery involves Sophia, who he met in an earlier installment, 'Heresy', and she now wants him to clear her name as she has been accused of murdering her husband. The murder took place in Canterbury and he travels there from London along with the lovely Sophia disguised as a serving boy.

So as not to spoil the plot I will just say that the book sees a mix of several genres in that it is part detective, spy and historical novel. All are well served in equal measure in my opinion, and particularly enjoyable because I didn't feel that the characters were sacrificied for the plot twists. Giordano is believable and well rounded as a lead character and there has obviously been effort put into drawing the supporting cast as well. I have to respect an author who can not only grip you with a good paced and interesting plotline but also make sure the characters are people you want to understand and see develop. SJ Parris is proving to be at the top of her craft and I think her success with this series is very well deserved.

I found the book a very enjoyable read. And as an added bonus I thought I knew who the murderer was quite early on in the book but it turns out I was wrong. Always nice to be surprised! I really hope there is another Bruno mystery (I'm positive there will be!) as I want to see what happens to him, which is for me a sign of a good book. Will he ever find the book of Hermes Trismegistus and solve its long lost puzzle?
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on 16 May 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is the third in a series featuring the dashing and erudite Giordano Bruno. It's also the first I've read, but the author makes it easy for us to pick up on the ground covered in the earlier books, without giving away the entire story, so we can go back in time to read the earlier ones, something I intend to do having enjoyed this one so much.

Here Bruno is persuaded to help solve the mystery of a murder in Canterbury, and whilst there becomes embroiled in secret plots fuelling the religious turmoil which characterised the Tudor period. The author skillfully weaves a gripping murder mystery - with a plot twist to rival anything Agatha Christie wrote - with the typical Elizabethan thriller plot which is quite popular at the moment.

Whilst being quite a page turner with some well drawn characters, I found it wasn't filled with quite so much blood and gore as these books sometimes are - though there is some even here. This makes it a pleasant change and all the more enjoyable.

An interesting and well written book, evoking something of the hot Elizabethan summer and the mood of the time. Well worth a read.
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