In March 1584, the priest of Belamar de la Sierra, a small town in Aragon near the French border, is murdered in his own church. Read more...
In March 1584, the priest of Belamar de la Sierra, a small town in Aragon near the French border, is murdered in his own church. Most of the town s inhabitants are Moriscos, former Muslims who converted to Catholicism. Anxious to avert a violent backlash on the eve of a royal visit, an adviser to King Philip II appoints local magistrate Bernardo de Mendoza to investigate. A soldier and humanist, Mendoza doesn t always live up to the moral standards expected of court officials, but he has a reputation for incorruptibility.
From the beginning, Mendoza finds almost universal hatred for the priest. And it isn t long before he s drawn into a complex and dangerous world in which greed, fanaticism, and state policy overlap. And as the killings continue, Mendoza's investigation is overshadowed by the real prospect of an ethnic and religious civil war.
By turns an involving historical thriller and a novel with parallels to our own time, The Devils of Cardona is an unexpected and compelling read."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-04-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Depicting a 16th-century Spain rife with zealotry and Machiavellian scheming, Carr’s fiction debut is a satisfying effort. Carr (Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain) is an expert on the region’s history of religious tensions and puts that knowledge to good use here. The novel begins with the gruesome murder of a lecherous priest in Aragon, a mountainous territory in northeastern Spain. Though the inhabitants of Aragon “like to run their affairs without interference from the Crown,” the Spanish king appoints a special justice, Bernardo de Mendoza, to investigate. Mendoza quickly assembles his team, two seasoned soldiers and a young page in his care, who throughout their inquiry contend with a host of unsavory characters: mountain bandits; an ambitious and villainous priest of the Inquisition; a nobleman attempting to strong-arm the widowed Countess of Cardona into marrying his depraved son; and finally a shadowy figure, the Redeemer, executing a series of heinous crimes supposedly in support of Spain’s Moriscos, Muslims who converted, often with little choice, to Christianity. The murdered priest is the first of many victims, but with each new atrocity the Redeemer’s motivation becomes harder to divine. All the elements for a spine-tingling thriller are here, though Carr doesn’t quite generate the expected drama in the progression of the mystery or its solution. The occasionally wooden dialogue (“You will explain yourself to me, villain”) doesn’t help either. Still, the novel has its redeeming qualities, not the least of which is a masterly recreation of a fascinating era. (June)