The Secret Dead by S.J. Parris

‘The Secret Dead’ is a novella and is a prequel to the Giordano Bruno series (currently ‘Heresy’, ‘Prophesy’, ‘Sacrilege’ and ‘Treachery’) by S.J. Parris (a penname for Stephanie Merritt).

The book is set in 1566 has Bruno as an 18 year old newly ordained monk, still unsure of the politics and unwritten rules of the church to which he belongs. He has an inquiring mind and a tendency to question everything, but these dangerous traits have been overlooked and he has been accepted into San Domenico Maggiore, a convent of the Dominican Order in Naples. But, he needs to be careful as the same class rules exist within the church as outside, and Bruno is not near the top.

His mentor, Fra Gennaro, a great scientist, obtains bodies illegally for performing autopsies, and allows Bruno to share his secret. But when the body of a young woman raises a few too many questions for Bruno, he must decide where his loyalties lie. Is the pursuit of the truth worth risking his position in the church and even his life?


It is easy to see from this short story how Bruno ends up being the radical monk, charged with heresy and hiding in another country. His sense of justice would never be able to give way to politics and his acceptance of other religions would be a certain path to trouble.

If you haven’t yet read ‘Heresy’ then this short story looks like the perfect lead-in. But, if you already know and love Giordano Bruno, then you’ll love this little piece of his life.


Book Published 2014


See a full list of books by S.J. Parris

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