Written by SJ Parris — It’s been two years since Sacrilege, the last book in critic and feature writer SJ Parris’ Giordano Bruno series. Set in Elizabethan times, Treachery picks up the story one year later and we find Bruno and his friend, Sir Philip Sidney, heading to Plymouth. Their task is to escort Dom Antonio, pretender to the Portuguese throne, to London.
What sounds like a simple enough job isn’t going to be as straightforward as Bruno hoped, and with the French ambassador looking for a reason to withdraw his protection, Bruno desperately needs to keep out of trouble. However, Sir Philip is hiding a secret and by the time the pair arrive in Plymouth, it becomes clear that this is the least of his problems.
Captain Robert Dunne has been found dead on board one of her majesty’s ships. The vessel was due to head out of port bound for the New World, with Sir Francis Drake leading the convoy. Dunne’s demise hasn’t just stalled the expedition, it’s also set tongues wagging and to superstitious sailors, it’s a portent of danger. The man’s death has been chalked down as a suicide. Bad enough at a time when such things were seen as a mortal sin, but for Drake it’s preferable that his men believe this than the truth. Captain Dunne was murdered and his body strung up.
Arriving shortly after the death, Bruno and Sidney quickly see through the subterfuge and Bruno finds his detection skills being offered by his friend, in return for passage to the New World and back. With Sidney’s little secret out, Bruno only has a short time-frame to track down Dunne’s killer before he strikes again. Meanwhile, the dead captain’s wife is on her way to the inquest.
The question of motive soon reveals two potential options. Firstly, there fact that that Captain Dunne was a juror in a trial that resulted in the execution of another sailor. Secondly, a heretical book was discovered amongst his possessions. With two other men involved in the trial having met untimely, but seemingly accidental deaths, could this be a simple case of revenge or does the killer have a much darker purpose?
At 540 pages this is certainly a meaty read, but it’s a definite must for any fan of historical crime fiction. If you enjoyed Phil Rickman’s Doctor John Dee series, then try Treachery. It’s a book that pulls you in, and positively demands you switch off your phone and give it your full attention. If you’re new to the series, you’ll be drawn into the book without feeling at a disadvantage for not having read the previous three novels. The fact that it’s narrated by Bruno means you get to know him and Sir Philip as you follow their movements, as well as enough of Bruno’s backstory without feeling overwhelmed by unnecessary details.
As we post this review, Treachery is just £2 on Kindle. Another great reason to try it out.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars