Written by S.J. Parris

Review written by Sue Lord

Harper Collins
RRP: £12.99
Released: 3rd March 2011
One of Elizabeth I's maids is brutally murdered. Pamphlets are being circulated prophesying the Queens death. Catholic agitators are in full mode, murder plots being hatched in every corner. The murder has an occult association, with aspects of the maid’s death corresponding to a prophecy that predicts the demise of the monarch. Bruno is spying for Walsingham at the French Embassy and he must work out if any of the visitors or embassy staff are plotting to replace Protestant Elizabeth with the Catholic Mary Stuart.

The pseudonym adopted by the author, SJ Parris is closely modeled on CJ Sansom as are the novels. Prophesy, as with Sansom, is set in Tudor times with focus on the religious conflicts of the age and there links to the Crown. The hero Giordano Bruno, is an outsider, he is a foreigner. Sansom has Shardlake who is a hunch-back. Both heroes get caught up in events and become the unwilling agent of close advisers to the monarch, Walsingham in this book, Cromwell and Catherine Parr in the Shardlake series.

The pace of Prophecy is slow at the beginning and the plot is a standard premise; themed murders. As in the first book Heresy where a series of murders take place in a closed community, an Oxford college. Which reverberates with the initial Shardlake story, Dissolution, set in a monastery.
Prophecy seems to have ‘second book’ syndrome. The twists and turns of the plot are not credible and the ending is contrived. Never the less, Prophecy is a good read and would stand on it’s own without any of this type of ‘cynical marketing.’ Parris is an excellent writer, let us have an original book without all this flim-flam. I will be the first to buy it.

S.J. Parris has a good feel for history but the hero could be more engaging. He is an actual historical figure, the heretic astronomer Giordano Bruno, an excommunicated ex monk. I would like to know more about him.

Despite my misgivings I enjoyed this book, although Heresy was the better novel.

If you love C.J.Sansom, you will like S.J.Parris.
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