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SACRILEGE by S.J.  Parris

SACRILEGE

By S.J. Parris

Pub Date: April 10th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-53547-2
Publisher: Doubleday

Giordano Bruno, the excommunicated monk attached to both the French embassy and the spy network of Sir Francis Walsingham, is lured to Canterbury by still another troubled attachment.

In 1584, Bruno thinks he’s put Sophia Underhill, whom he loved in vain in Heresy (2010, etc.), behind him. And so he has, but only in the sense that she’s dogging his steps in London disguised as a boy. When he recognizes her, she appeals once more for his help. Sir Edward Kingsley, the much older magistrate to whom her aunt married her off after an illegitimate child exiled her from the life she’d known, has been brained with a crucifix in Canterbury Cathedral under conditions that echo the martyrdom of Thomas Becket and make Sophia the obvious suspect. Only Bruno, she insists, can vindicate her by unmasking her hated husband’s killer. Under protest, Bruno persuades Walsingham to dispatch him to Canterbury, ostensibly to report back on the doings of Dr. Harry Robinson, the spymaster’s man inside the Cathedral Chapter, but secretly accompanied by Sophia, still disguised as Kit. He soon identifies several other promising suspects: Sir Edward’s wastrel son Nicholas; physician/alchemist Dr. Ezekiel Sykes; and cathedral gatekeeper Tom Garth, whose sister Sarah died in the Kingsley home nine years ago under mysterious circumstances. In the meantime, however, Bruno stumbles into much deeper waters, from the disappearances of a number of young boys to a plot to revive the Becket cult, dormant ever since the disappearance of the saint’s bones, to a conspiracy involving the alchemical theories of Paracelsus and Hermes Trismegistus. Instead of flying below the radar, as Walsingham bade him, Bruno finds himself swiftly making influential enemies as well.

Densely textured but slow-moving, with a mystery whose tangled mess of multiple plots and plotters is only partly resolved by Bruno’s trial for murder, attempted murder and larceny.