Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Sacrilege (Giordano Bruno #3), by S.J. Parris

Title: Sacrilege: Giordano Bruno #3
Author: S.J. Parris
Format: Print copy, bound manuscript
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

From Goodreads: "A gripping historical thriller set in sixteenth-century England and centered on the highly secretive cult of Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.
London, summer of 1584: Radical philosopher, ex-monk, and spy Giordano Bruno suspects he is being followed by an old enemy. He is shocked to discover that his pursuer is in fact Sophia Underhill, a young woman with whom he was once in love. When Bruno learns that Sophia has been accused of murdering her husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury, he agrees to do anything he can to help clear her name.
In the city that was once England's greatest center of pilgrimage, Bruno begins to uncover unsuspected secrets that point to the dead man being part of a larger and more dangerous plot in the making. He must turn his detective's eye on history—on Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, and on the legend surrounding the disappearance of his body—in order to solve the crime.
As Bruno's feelings for Sophia grow more intense, so does his fear that another murder is about to take place—perhaps his own. But more than Bruno's life is at stake in this vividly rendered, impeccably researched, and addictively page-turning whodunit—the stability of the kingdom hangs in the balance as Bruno hunts down a brutal murderer in the shadows of England's most ancient cathedral."

My opinion: I was asked to read this by the publisher who knew that I hadn't read the first two books in the series, Heresy and Prophecy, as it can be read as a standalone. I loved this book SO much, though, that I'm going to get my hands on a copy of the first two books as soon as possible so I can devour them the way I devoured Sacrilege! I LOVED it! I do enjoy historical fiction, but this went beyond your regular historical fiction - it had one heck of a mystery in it, too! Bruno is contacted by a woman from his past, Sophia, who is on the run after being accused of murdering her husband, a cold, cruel man. She insists she is being set up, so Bruno, who happens to have feelings for Sophia, agrees to go to Canterbury to investigate. As he works for the French embassy to the court of Elizabeth, queen of England, he also volunteers to investigate possible missing funds from the Church of Canterbury. Little does Bruno know, he's going to become involved in so, so much more! He's embarking on a journey that takes many twists and turns before reaching its final destination, including a massive twist at the end of the book that totally took me by surprise! I was delighted that I didn't see it coming because it made it just that much better!

I loved the characters in this book, even the ones you love to hate. Every one of them is well fleshed out and carries the plot along to its conclusion. Bruno has a knack for getting himself in trouble, even when he's trying to avoid it. Part of the fun is collecting the pieces of the puzzle along with Bruno as you try to solve the mystery yourself! The plot is tight and, although filled with historical facts, I found it to be an easy read. 

Notable quote: "I laid a hand over his and a silent tear trickled down his hollow cheek. His words reminded me of Helene's, and I felt suddenly overwhelmed by the weight of their grief and bewilderment; all over our bloody continent, Catholics and Protestants alike went on dying at one another's hands, all looking up to heaven and crying out to their God, whose side are You on? While their God remains deaf and says nothing, because on both sides they have failed to understand who or what He is, as they spill more blood in His name."

I can't get across how much I loved this book and can't WAIT to read the other two books in the series, as well as any other books S.J. Parris has written or will write! :D

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