Jason Golomb's Reviews > Heresy

Heresy by S.J. Parris
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's review
Aug 17, 11

liked it
bookshelves: mystery, historical-fiction
Read in August, 2011

This book has all the makings of a terrific historical mystery:
1) Great time and place - England during the Elizabethan era
2) Great contextual and cultural undercurrent - Catholicism v. Protestantism; and a growing world view that's building momentum towards the Renaissance.
3) Cool lead character - Giordano Bruno, a real life mystic/priest/heretic/scientist

Unfortunately, the author wasn't able to build upon this foundation with an interesting enough story. The three factors above all scream MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, but the actual plot whispers MADE FOR TV.

After escaping inquisition in Italy, an excommunicated Bruno finds himself in Oxford, England where he's scheduled to debate Oxford's Rector on the Copernican theory of the universe. First, one senior member of the faculty is murdered, then another, and then one more. Bruno takes it upon himself to dig into the evidence and naturally finds mystery and opposition at every turn.

I kept waiting for a nice strong 'gotcha' during the story. Sometimes those don't come until halfway through or even later, but, in this case, it never came. And this is the largest disappointment with the novel.

The writing is good. S.J.Parris is a wonderfully descriptive author. The moods and, in particular, the scenes are drawn very strongly. The secondary characters are not and I never felt a strong enough pull to root for or against them.

I'm keeping Harris' Bruno follow up on my wishlist because there are a enough interesting things going on in Bruno's world that I remain optimistic about the sequel.
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