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(Giordano Bruno #3)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,361 ratings  ·  320 reviews

Perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and The Name of the Rose, the third historical thriller featuring Giordano Bruno, heretic, philosopher and spy.

In the pursuit of power, nothing is sacred…

Summer, 1584. The Protestant Prince William of Orange has been assassinated by a fanatical Catholic, and there are whispers that Queen Elizabeth will be next. Fear haunts the streets of

Kindle Edition, 469 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2012)
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Rapunzel Yes, there are only a few mentions to the previous books but the story is easy to follow as a standalone.…moreYes, there are only a few mentions to the previous books but the story is easy to follow as a standalone. (less)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  3,361 ratings  ·  320 reviews

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3.5 stars

In this third book in the 'Giordano Bruno' series, Bruno tries to track down a killer in Canterbury while he exposes Catholic plots against Queen Elizabeth. The novel can be read as a standalone.


It's 1584 and antagonism rages between Protestant England and Catholic countries of Europe. Many people, even in England, would like nothing better than to to depose (or kill) Queen Elizabeth and install a Catholic monarch on the English throne. Thus the Queen's adviser, Sir Francis
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has so many flaws that it’s hard to know where to start. The major flaw is the author doesn’t seem to know what topic to use as the major conflict, and the book wanders hither and yon without a clear focus. One possible theme is Bruno’s love interest; another is the imminent possibility of an invasion of England; another is a fictional cult of Thomas a Becket which plans to restore Catholicism to England; another is the possibility of a plot to assassinate Elizabeth and elevate Mary to ...more
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.

This is apparently the third book in a series, so once again I have the interesting experience of being dropped into an already established situation and trying to catch up. It wasn't too hard; Parris deftly sketches in the portrait of Bruno, the ex-monk, ex-spy, ex-fugitive, philosopher, diplomat and writer. In this book he's under the spell of the beautiful Sophia, who begs him to go to Canterbury to solve the mystery of her late
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I realize I've been reading a lot of historic fiction last year. Here's the first one in 2015. I enjoy the Bruno Giordano series of S.J. Parris, but with this one, the storyline had highs and lows. Not consistently strong and the love interest part annoyed me really. I started reading Lamentation by C.J. Sansom next to this book, and I really thought that story was much stronger, and kept my interest more than this. However, I loved the ending scenes of this book, which made up a lot, the ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tudor dynasty of late medieval England is popular with novelists across the range: from the ‘literary’ end of the market - Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall; to popular romance: Phillipa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl; to children’s novels: Julia Jarman’s The Time Travelling Cat and the Tudor Treasure. The Tudor period was marked by conflict, religious turmoil and brutal and bloody regimes. It therefore offers great scope for writers of crime fiction, as the success of S J Sansom and Rory Clements ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Sacrilege! If you try it, you'll like it too! Sacrilege is fun for the whole family.

Okay, I'm done now. But seriously folks, it is an excellent read. S.J. Parris is the pen name for Stephanie Merritt, a British journalist and author of two previous novels in the series, Heresy and Prophecy.

I had the opportunity to talk with her when she was visiting Toronto recently, and she spoke about writing when your child is on vacation (tricky), researching the Elizabethan era (fascinating), and how
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The appeal of this novel for me is the Canterbury setting in the late 16th century; the descriptions of the cobbled lanes and overhanging casements transport the modern-day city back to its medieval self without too much effort of the imagination!
The strands of the plot are a little repetitive in the first third of the book; Giordano Bruno's role of saviour to Sophia is underlined in metaphorical bold font again and again....and the twist is, of course, that he is ultimately
Frank Hintz
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third book in the historical fiction/mystery/thriller series featuring Giordano Bruno by S.J. Parris. Each book is a stand alone story, but there are a few significant references to the events to the events in the previous two books. In particular, one of the major characters in this story is a returning character from the first book. Further, the first book really introduces Bruno, presenting some key elements to his background. So, it does help to have read them all. Its been a while since ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in the series about Giordano Bruno by Tessa Harris that I've accessed electronically from the library. She has written more, and I will read the print version of these books because I like her well-researched, suspenseful stories set in England in the sixteenth century. Giordano Bruno is a former monk who escaped the inquisition in his native Italy because of his radical writings. He now serves as a spy for the court of Queen Elizabeth. In this story, Bruno is surprised to ...more
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
S. J. Parris has managed once again to create a historical mystery that is just as compelling and captivating as Heresy and Prophecy. In Sacrilege, we once again see Giordano Bruno, a renegade monk in the year 1584. He has a way of putting himself in harms way due to both his philosophy,and his radical books and is therefore not surprised to find himself being followed. He believes that surely it is someone meant to kill or harm him, but it turns out to be Sophia Underhill. She has come all the ...more
Mark Harrison
Much as I love this series I found this a bit of a let down. Bruno heads to Canterbury when a lady friend is accused of murder and gets involved in a deeper plot, of Catholic origin, against the Queen. It meanders in many directions, has a high body count and sees the brilliant Bruno become a rather simpering fool in the face of a young, manipulative lady. Decent book but no where close to the quality of the first two in the series.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m on a real reading kick at the moment and I love Tudor period historical fiction but whatever it was it all came together for me in this. I did not guess the ending until the end and I was on tenterhooks wanting to find out. There was even a romantic sex scene that was, dare I say it? Actually quite hot which I find rare in historical fiction generally. I have already bought the next book in the series so I will definitely read more. I do ...more
Margaret Sankey
Well-researched and plotted procedural using Giordano Bruno as the main investigator--attached to the French embassy, but working for Walsingham--in the case of a murdered cathedral official in Canterbury. Bruno turns his unacceptably modern views on cosmology and theology to what quickly unravels as a case of domestic violence, treason, Catholic plotting, dangerous religious nostalgia and the brutal Tudor world of expendable people and high stakes political risks.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Giordano Bruno is what is commonly called today, a Renaissance Man. He is a former Monk, a bit of a renegade and is on his way to Canterbury to investigate a murder that is somehow attached to the legendary Thomas a Becket, former Archbishop of Canterbury who fought over the Church’s rights with Henry II of England. Thomas was also treated with much respect by Catholics and Anglicans alike. Giordano, among his many talents is a spy for England, the country that is now counting on him for another ...more
John Lee
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seeing this book on the library shelf recently, I grabbed it. I was sure that I was awaiting this further episode into Elizabethan England with Doctor Bruno. I have now looked back through my logs and see that I have indeed read Heresy but not Prophecy. A shame as I like to try to read books in the order in which they are written. Perhaps this explains why I couldnt remember the detail of several references back to previous encounters in Sacrilege.
I still enjoyed the read but the more I read
Sue Corbett
Love the atmosphere and as always, a grea5 plot.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading the third, and most current, book in this series, Sacrilege. Radical philosopher, ex-monk and spy, Giordano Bruno, continues in the service of Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster, Lord Wasingham. This is the most entertaining and thrilling book yet in the series.

In this novel Bruno journeys to Canterbury to help an old flame who is on the run after being accused of murdering her much older husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury. But while investigating, he uncovers a
Janice  Durante
S.J. Parris's third novel in her historical mystery series delineates a fascinating and memorable protagonist. The year is 1584, and Giordano Bruno, an Italian former monk and "heretic," ostensibly serves the French ambassador, but is actually an agent of Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham. An old flame, Sophia Underhill, tracks him down in London and begs him to clear her name, as she is accused of killing her husband, a powerful magistrate in Canterbury.

With Sophia disguised
Julie Witt
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!

For my full review, please see
Leslie Roper
I have read all 3 of the S.J. Parris mysteries and I love them. I buy each one as they come out in hardback (Heresy, Prophecy and Sacrilege). Read them in one day and one night (stay up until I finish) then proudly line them up on my bookshelf. They look fabulous with their coordinating dust jackets. Then when I am ready to reread them, there they will be. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of S.J.Parris
Shelves: 2019
I wanted to like this book but just found that I didn't believe in the story and what it was all about.

I didn't like Bruno's romance with Sophia and after finding out a bit more about Giordano Bruno I don't think that he would have became so romantically involved with a person like this.

I've heard that the first two books are better so I wouldn't bother reading this book if you haven't read the first two.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another good addition to the series. This time Bruno is in Canterbury where nefarious deeds are afoot involving Thomas a Becket's bones, Catholic plotters and murderous officials. The books are well plotted, have good characterisation, and are well written both grammatically and structurally; a treat that is increasingly rare with so many YA and self-published horrors lurking in the Amazon undergrowth. A worthy addition to the canon of historical detective / mystery fiction.
Karen Klein
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still love the series, but this one seemed to drag on a little more than the others that I've read.......going to wait patiently for the next one - the way that this one ended I'm going to assume that there will be another.....ah Sophia what are you doing?
Have enjoyed the series of books about Bruno. Period interests me
Anne Brown
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the start of book 3 in the series, life is going pretty well for Giodano Bruno. He’s living at the French Embassy under the protection of the French ambassador, a man he likes and respects; Walsingham, the English spy master, is pleased with his foiling a plot against the Queen by English Catholics, notably the Howard family, with the connivance of both the French and the Spanish; he has just finished his latest book on the cosmos and the Queen wants to read it, which is an invaluable ...more
Nina The Fussy Reader
I'm going to try and make this a shorter review. Being the third book in a series, there isn't too much I can say without spoilers.
But it was a damn enjoyable read and I'm excited to continue.


What I love most about Giordano Bruno is just how Charismatic he is. He can literally talk his way out of so many situations and charm any information out of people. In fact, he's so charismatic, he doesn't even know it, and that's what makes him so likeable.

EquaIly, I think what makes him such
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Doohan
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Our hero barely escapes the adventures to be found in this volume of the continuing series with his life intact.

Travelling to the city of Canterbury, and to its Cathedral where Thomas Beckett was murdered, Giordano Bruno, a former Dominican monk and now a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham, investigates what he initially thought to be a simple murder of the local magistrate. His reasons for doing so, however, are not for the sake of true justice, but rather because a woman he first encountered in a
I’m halfway through this series now, and I just know that once I finish it, I’m going to feel a huge Giordano Bruno shaped void in my life.
Sacrilege is the third book in this series. Bruno is tracked down by Sophia, a lady who featured in the first book. A lady who he has a past with. She is on the run, accused of the murder of her wealthy husband in Canterbury. She claims innocence, and asks Bruno to solve the murder, and clear her name. He requests permission from Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’
Very mixed feelings for this book overall. I preferred the earlier books in the series. Even though this book is well paced and well written, I feel it was too formulaic and repetitious. The same plot devises (hidden rooms, concealed vaults, books hidden under the floorboards) are over used and I felt originality was lacking. I love the characters though - Bruno is engaging as ever and Dr Harry Robinson, Tom Garth and Rebecca were memorable. Fab descriptions throughout, wonderfully atmospheric ...more
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Pseudonym for author Stephanie Merritt

S.J. Parris began reviewing books for national newspapers while she was reading English literature at Queens' College, Cambridge. After graduating, she went on to become Deputy Literary Editor of The Observer in 1999. She continues to work as a feature writer and critic for the Guardian and the Observer and from 2007-2008 she curated and produced the Talks

Other books in the series

Giordano Bruno (6 books)
  • Heresy (Giordano Bruno, #1)
  • Prophecy (Giordano Bruno, #2)
  • Treachery (Giordano Bruno, #4)
  • Conspiracy (Giordano Bruno, #5)
  • Execution (Giordano Bruno, #6)