The Mysterious Bookshop

Carr, Matthew, The Devils of Cardona

In this gripping historical thriller set in sixteenth-century Spain, a Catholic priest is murdered by a mysterious Muslim terrorist as the Inquisition continues to force Moriscos to live and worship as Christians.

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 bibliophile, 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 more murders occur, Mendoza’s investigation is overshadowed by the real prospect of an all-out ethnic and religious civil war. Mendoza eventually discovers that the priest’s murder was just the start of a conspiracy that reaches into the very heart of the Castilian court itself.

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.