Reviewed by Rebecca Berry

Giordano Bruno returns in S.J. Parris’ latest historical thriller and once again finds himself in the middle of a mystery. His philosopher/courtier’s life in London is suddenly interrupted by the return of a long-lost love, Sophia Underhill, who is in danger of being executed for the murder of her husband, a high-ranking official in Canterbury. Bruno manages to escape his duties to the French ambassador and convince Francis Walsingham, spymaster for Queen Elizabeth I, that a trip to Canterbury would be advantageous to the crown. It will also allow him to pursue his own personal agenda of exonerating Sophia of any wrongdoing. And our gallant (and gullible) hero is off.

For anyone who enjoys historical fiction and a good mystery, Sacrilege will not disappoint. The characters are well developed, the plot is fast paced and intriguing and includes much of the historical elements of the day – the reign of Elizabeth I, the conflict of the time between Catholics and Protestants, and the story of St. Thomas a Beckett is seamlessly intertwined with the fictional aspects of the story. Walsingham, Sir Sidney, and Bruno are all real characters who were influential during the Queen’s reign, and like any good historical fiction this book blurs the lines between fact and fantasy. It plays on our curiosity of what past times must have been like. This book is beautifully written but not overly descriptive so we can clearly see our protagonist moving about on the streets of Canterbury and on the Cathedral grounds in our minds.

Sacrilege is the third of a series of books featuring the philosopher spy Bruno but it stands on its own just fine. A good, enjoyable, highly entertaining read with an ending that surprises and leaves the door wide open for the return of our hero Bruno. And although I probably won’t go back and read the earlier books, I’ll definitely be looking out for him in the future.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Rebecca is a stay at home mom and lives in Plain City, a sleepy little town in central Ohio, with her husband and young son. She enjoys cooking, eating, Zumba, crafting, and of course, reading!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.