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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

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Treachery reviewed by The Observer

Sunday 2nd November 2014

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Giordano Bruno, philosopher, poet, cosmologist, heretic and former monk, boards Sir Francis Drake’s ship for his latest adventure. He is a gift of a character, and SJ Parris clearly relishes his potential. Treachery is the fourth Bruno novel from Parris (the pseudonym of Observer writer Stephanie Merritt), and it’s pacy, intricate and frequently thrilling.

Once more, Bruno is paired with Sir Philip Sidney, the rakish playboy, hungry for action and accolade, a favourite of Elizabeth I, who balances out the more brooding aspects of Bruno’s character. Their relationship feels as if it hasn’t evolved much over the course of previous books, and Bruno can sometimes appear too good to be true: his only failing seems to be that he’s a little on the short side. This man-out-of-time is tolerant, open-minded, inquisitive, tender-hearted when it comes to prostitutes and street urchins, and confident that those in the Arab world are making scientific advances from which he might one day learn. Yet it’s these qualities that make him a window into this world thick with intrigue...

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