Written by S. J. Parris
Review by Ann Northfield

Italian philosopher, Giordano Bruno is in a confession booth giving the priest a list of his sins. We are instantly gripped by the hero’s iconoclastic panache. A series of murders ensue and King Henri, an old friend of Bruno’s, asks him to investigate. Bruno is disadvantaged in this task by the fact that he is a declared heretic and banned from court by Catherine de Medici, the Queen Mother. The irony and danger of having to investigate the crimes, whilst looking like the prime suspect himself, is not lost upon him. Bruno navigates his way through devious plots against the King and betrayals from his former lovers, through conflicts between Catholics and Huguenots and the machinations of two formidable sets of spies – those being run from England by Walsingham, and the Flying Squad, a group of nubile young noblewomen spying for the Queen Mother. For a mere writer, Bruno certainly gets himself into a lot of trouble.

This is vivid, pacy writing, where we live the twists and turns of Bruno’s dilemmas with him. The historical detail is thoroughly convincing, with the scenes at court being particularly memorable. A recommended read in this engaging series.