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3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 April 2011
The Inquisition is an intriguing proposition for fans of historical murder-mystery fiction, written by an Italian author, set during the early Renaissance with the university city of Bologna at the centre, where the whole nasty business of a gruesome killing is mixed up in the affairs of the Knights Templar, the Inquisition and the eternal quest for the secret of alchemy. While the murder-mystery aspect of Inquisition turns out to be fairly conventional however, the period, the setting and the characterisation make the novel much more interesting.

The premise is relatively straightforward - three Knights Templar scattered throughout Europe, in Naples, Cyprus and Toledo, have been sent a letter that piques their interest, the promise of the secret of alchemical transformation waiting for them in Bologna accompanied by a finger that has been turned into iron, but the letter hints at another dark practices. When a victim subsequently turns up in Bologna, his body mutilated, his heart transformed into a solid block of iron, Mondino de Liuzzi, a physician and lecturer at the Bologna School of Medicine becomes involved helping out a young Knight Templar who is in danger of being accused of the crime, a clearly satanic act that is likely to be judged very harshly by the church and its chief Inquisitor in the city, Uberto da Rimini.

The Inquisitor has other reasons for wanting the young Knight Templar convicted of the murder, and it's very much to do with the order falling into disrepute, with its heretical views that threaten the authority of the church during a period when its power is being challenged. Not only is the city divided between Ghibelline factions who support the Emperor's rule and Guelph followers who support the authority of the Pope, but scientific discovery and investigation is also making progress, with many on a quest for knowledge that considers the heathen belief in Alchemy.

Inquisition then is a relatively straightforward murder-mystery with lots of historical interest and period colour and moments of 'grand guignol', but like the best historical crime novels of this type, it manages to consider its subject relevant to the thinking and beliefs of the times. The exploration of mysteries of the world and understanding of the workings of the human body and the mind undertaken by the physician Mondino relates perfectly to this commencement of the Renaissance period where the quest for knowledge is undertaken in the belief that it is for the betterment of mankind - a view that conflicts with the views of the church and how that betterment is achieved, even to the extent of killing heathens and heretics - and this is brought out brilliantly in the novel, without intruding and without over-complicating, but rather adding a layer of richness and depth to the thrilling murder-mystery intrigue.
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on 23 August 2011
I had high hopes for this, thought it would be really good, having read a lot of CJ Sansom and the reviews said if you liked CJ, you would like this. It is translated, which makes some of it a bit stilted. Plot line is good. Did not have the real-world grip that Sansom has. I just did not feel like I was immersed in this world, and the main characters lacked development for me. Overall it was okay, but nowhere near the calibre of the Sansom novels.
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on 25 August 2011
A physician autopsies the body of a Templar knight and finds that the man's heart has been turned to iron. And then all hell breaks loose -- it's the time of the Inquisition, and the only thing worse than being a Templar is being a scientist.

This is glorious stuff. I like CJ Sansom and have been looking for another historical fiction writer to read in between Shardlakes, and although I haven't much liked SJ Parris or James Forrester, Inquisition absolutely did it for me. It's smart but fun, full of interesting details about the Inquisition and the science of anatomy, and it's a cracking murder mystery to boot. I read online that the author has written two more books with these characters, and I want to read both.
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on 2 February 2012
Let's be honest - this is not great literature and you'll probably struggle to remember it in a year's time, but it is a good, rollicking read. Plenty of action, some very nasty deaths, an intriguing mystery - then add in Templars, Inquisitors, alchemists, sorcerers (not the Harry Potter type - thank goodness) and some good historical detail and you've got a very satisfying meal.

There are some weaknesses: the translation tends occasionally to be a specific translation of exact words ("interior turmoil" - isn't this normally "inner turmoil"?) and this makes for a jarring product at times. Also, I have some doubts whether someone who has been subjected to torture would be able to do some of the things in the denouement - but maybe I'm just being pedantic?

Overall, this is a good book (a really good book if you're looking for a beach read) and will be of interest to anyone who likes a good historical murder/mystery thriller.

As for being better than Dan Brown - I suppose that's faint praise as almost anything is better than Dan Brown.....
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on 16 June 2013
'A brilliant thriller to rival CJ Sansom' says the blurb on the jacket. Well it's not brilliant, it's not very thrilling and I don't think CJ Sansom has any need to worry about this rivalling him. Having said all that, 'Inquisition' is an entertaining, quick read that is enjoyable and a little bit different.

Set in Bologna in the 14th Century and base around themes of alchemy and science, Colitto has linked different concerns adeptly. The central character Mondino is a physician who is determined to progress scientific knowledge, even if that brings him into conflict with the Catholic Church and the Inquisition in particular. The trial of the Templar knights sits in the background whilst the central narrative is about the gruesome deaths of two templars.

It's not a hard read, it's not highbrow but it is good fun.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 November 2011
I really really really enjoyed this book - I'm always a little bit wary of books translated into English - sometimes they just don't seem to flow as I imagine they would in their native language. But this book, and its translation, really flowed beautifully. The language was perfect.

But even beyond that, the story itself was absolutely brilliant. What a great concept - the mysterious death of a man who appears to have been a Templar, at the time when being a Knight Templar was in itself a dangerous occupation. The novel is set in Bologna, already a city in a region torn by long-standing Ghibelline and Guelph allegiances. More than that, the Church under Pope Clement V and King Philip IV of France are setting up actions against the Templars, and attempting to make those stick across the whole of Europe. The Inquisition in Bologna is keen to do their duty by the Church, particularly under the auspices of the really nasty Uberto. So when Mondino, an anatomist who really just wants to be left alone to work on his medical theories (also a touchy point with the Church at this time), finds himself caught up in conspiracy theories and unsolved mysteries which also seem to involve occult powers, it really becomes a race against so many factors to work out what's going on and why.

The characters are really well-developed in this book - they all stand out from the page, and are well characterised. The story races along - I found myself turning the last 50 pages at the rate of knots, absolutely frantic to find out what was going to happen next. The setting is very evocatively drawn for the reader - medieval Bologna, the Church, the life led by the people in these places at these times - it all rang true, and worked really well - there was nothing that jarred my historical senses at all. Clearly the author really knows his stuff. I haven't found any others of his books in English - hopefully these will appear on the market soon - I'd love to read some more of his works. Highly recommended for any reader who loves medieval mysteries.
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on 21 October 2012
If you like this sort of thing then buy it as it is really one of the better examples of the medieval murder mystery religious conspiracy genre. I agree with just about all the reviews here but still think this is worthy company to CJ et al
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on 30 October 2011
This is an excellent story with interesting characters set in the background of an era of religious intolerance and the persecution of the Templars. It's well written and knocks featureless novels such as the Da Vinci Code out of the ring altogether.
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on 20 July 2015
even though i found the book good overall, i felt that it cojld get a bit hard to follow at times with the specilised language… i would have liked more depth around the main characters as wel
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on 3 March 2015
An intriguing tale, with an interesting twist to keep one wanting to know how the whole plot pans out. A little dark in places, not for reading over the dinner table!
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