“We go 350-odd years further back in time for Robert Harris’ thriller The Second Sleepto 1468, to be precise. Consider other terrific medieval mysteries as Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose or Ross King’s Ex-Librisand get ready for an exceptionally intricate tale that will take you in unexpected directions and then pummel you when you get there. Cleric Christopher Fairfax is called upon to officiate at the interment of a parish priest. It’s a simple enough task: Write a few words of banal praise and read the appropriate scriptures to usher the man to his final resting place. But Fairfax doesn’t sleep well the night before and instead visits the dead man’s library, where he happens upon all manner of heretical books that have been banned by church and state alike. Contrary to his upbringing, training and better judgment, Fairfax begins to read. At this point in the review, I am torn between revealing any more or just letting the reader unearth surprise after surprise until they begin to get a glimmering of what is really transpiring here. So, after some consideration, I will just leave you with this quote: “the ultimate symbol of the ancients’ hubris and blasphemy, an apple with a bite taken out of it.” Chew on that for a while . . .”

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