by Catherine Jinks
Category: Fiction / Historical
400 pages; ISBN: 0312308159
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Early in the fourteenth century in Lazet, France Dominican Brother Bernard enjoys his pious position as assistant to Father Jacques, the Head of the Inquisition into Heretical Depravity. However, Brother Bernard’s comfortable lifestyle abruptly ends in 1318 when someone kills Father Jacques, dismembering the corpse.
Ailing ascetic Father Augustin replaces Father Jacques and quickly digs deep into the homicide as well as several incidents in which his predecessor declared local VIPs free of heresy. Demanding the accounts of the Inquisitorial registers, Father Augustin learns several are missing. Father Augustin also makes inquiries into an enclave of women living just outside of Lazet, thinking females living alone practice witchcraft or prostitution. However, a massacre occurs as someone(s) slices up Augustin and his ensemble. The new Inquisition leader Pierre-Julien plans to prove that the women and Bernard are ritual murdering heretics even if he lacks any evidence.
Those readers who demand authenticity in a historical novel will prefer the uncompromising and invigorating look at the fourteenth century through the mindset of a Dominican Inquisitor. Bernard’s first person narration enables the reader to observe what seems so hypocritical from the perspective of modern times as the Inquisitors use biblical doctrine to defend their “under God” actions. Catherine Jinks’ well written and insightful debut novel is a triumph for those who desire accuracy, but the audience should realize that it will take the paradigm switch of a historiographer to appreciate this deep look at a period of religious fervor and terror.
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