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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book review: Anatomy of the Heretic by David Mark

 


Author Official Website

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

Author Info: David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post - walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

Publisher: Head of Zeus (January 21, 2022) Length: 375 Cover art: 



OVERVIEW: Robert McCammon's Matthew Corbett series rekindled my love of historical thrillers. Dawid Mark proved the genre could be darker than most grimdark books.

Anatomy of a Heretic is as good as it is gritty. The story follows two assassins whose paths cross and lead to a bloody finale. The disfigured Jeronimus Cornelisz has big plans, and he will destroy anyone who stands in his way. Nicolaes de Pelgrom, assassin and devoted servant of George Villiers, will do whatever his master demands. Both find themselves on the same ship sailing to India.

The blurb suggests an exciting and bloody battle between two assassins, which is somewhat misleading. The first part of the book introduces the protagonists and their circumstances. The second part follows their perilous sea voyage. At this point, however, they have little contact. Without giving too much away, Jeronimus is busy planning a mutiny. Nicolaes tries to hide his identity and bring justice to others.

Mark's writing style is descriptive and literary. He impressed me with its richness. Vivid descriptions immersed me in the time and place. His primary and secondary characters are three-dimensional and fit into the world.

Cornelisz believes there is no good, no bad and that evil within us must have been put there by God. He can not fight, but he can kill. He knows how to manipulate people and their weaknesses. He has a pathological need to win. Many readers will find his chapters, personality, and reasoning disturbing. They should! And yet, through it all, I never felt he was a caricature.

Nicolaes is likable. He wants to atone as much as he can before his time comes. There are other impressive characters, but it's best to discover their storylines without hints or spoilers.

CONCLUSION: As mentioned at the beginning, Anatomy of a Heretic contains disturbing content. It's suspenseful and exciting, but also violent and bloody. The opening chapter delivers one of the most terrifying murder scenes I've ever read. Not gratuitous, but so cruel and cold and terrifying that it shook me to the bone.

Fans of dark historical fiction will be delighted by it.

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