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Heresy

Heresy

This novel blends true events with fiction; it is an historical thriller which delivers a murder mystery set on the sixteenth-century Oxford University campus.  Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet and scientist on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite.

Bruno is brought to London, where he is recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen.  His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman.  As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realises that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be.  Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy.

This novel was received in a somewhat lukewarm manner by most of the group with several members conceding that they had only continued reading in order to be able to review the book at the meeting, one member commenting that she had decided not to finish reading it and another wishing she hadn't continued.  This was mainly due to the novel having too many things going on with not enough depth to the plot or the characters to evoke sufficient interest in either.

The book was deemed confusing with very long chapters and too many gratuitous gruesome murders.  We did, however, say that we felt it was very brave to go against the religion of the day and we all agreed that colleges were, and still are, very protective of their reputation.

One member did actually enjoy the book and another found a certain humour in some aspects of the story, namely the character of the Polish gentleman.

In essence then, we would not recommend this book as it was difficult to grasp the characters and the plot line and most members felt no real sympathy for the main character.

Review by Janine Tibbles