S. J. Parris is the pseudonym used by British critic and feature writer Stephanie Merritt, the author of the Giordano Bruno series, a historical thriller series. Stephanie Merritt became Deputy Literary Editor of The Observer in 1998 and left in 2005 to become a full-time writer. She had published her first book, Gaveston, three years prior and her second novel, Real, was just published–she worked then on the movie adaptation.
In 2008, she started writing Heresy, the first in her series of historical thrillers featuring the 16th-century heretic philosopher and spy Giordano Bruno. It was published in 2010 under the pen name S.J.Parris. New books came quickly after that, the series had become a success and sold in 20 countries. In addition to writing novels, Stephanie Merritt currently writes for The Observer and The Guardian.
How to read S. J. Parris’ Books in Order?
The Giordano Bruno Series in Order:
Starting in 1583, the story is a blending true events with fiction and introduces us to Giordano Bruno when he is recruited by the queen’s spymaster. After that, he went undercover, tracking spies and killers. Every book in the Giordano Bruno series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Academy of Secrets – Prequel, Kindle exclusive. Novice monk Giordano Bruno struggles to follow the strict rules of religious life. He has questions – about God, life, the universe – which could prove deadly… especially at a time when the Inquisition is gaining power and influence. One night, Bruno’s mentor invites him to a hidden location outside the city where a group of like-minded men meet to discuss forbidden subjects – a secret society. Bruno is captivated – even more so when he meets Fiammetta della Porta, the niece of the society’s wealthy leader, who initiates him into the ways of love.
- Heresy – Oxford, 1583. The country is rife with plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and return the realm to the Catholic faith. Giordano Bruno is recruited by the queen’s spymaster and sent undercover to expose a treacherous conspiracy in Oxford – but his own secret mission must remain hidden at all costs. When a series of hideous murders ruptures close-knit college life, Bruno is compelled to investigate. And what he finds makes it brutally clear that the Tudor throne itself is at stake…
- Prophecy – Autumn, 1583. An astrological phenomenon heralds the dawn of a new age and Queen Elizabeth’s throne is in peril. As Mary Stuart’s supporters scheme to usurp the rightful monarch, a young maid of honour is murdered, occult symbols carved into her flesh. The Queen’s spymaster, Francis Walsingham, calls on maverick agent Giordano Bruno to infiltrate the plotters and secure the evidence that will condemn them to death.
- Sacrilege – London, 1584. Giordano Bruno is being followed by the woman he once loved – Sophia Underhill, accused of murder and on the run. With the leave of the Queen’s spymaster, he sets out to clear Sophia’s name. But when more brutal killings occur a far deadlier plot emerges. His hunt for the real killer leads to the shadows of the Cathedral – England’s holiest shrine – and the heart of a sinister and powerful conspiracy …
- Treachery – August, 1585. Sir Francis Drake is preparing to launch a daring expedition against the Spanish when a murder aboard his ship changes everything. Giordano Bruno agrees to hunt the killer down, only to find that more than one deadly plot is brewing in Plymouth’s murky underworld. And as he tracks a murderer through its dangerous streets, he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the future of England itself.
- Conspiracy – Paris, 1585. Giordano Bruno arrives in Paris to find a city on the edge of catastrophe. King Henri III lives in fear of a coup by the Duke of Guise and his fanatical Catholic League, and another massacre on the streets. When Bruno’s old rival, Father Paul Lefèvre is found murdered, Bruno is drawn into a dangerous web of religious politics and court intrigue. And watching over his shoulder is the King’s mother, Catherine de Medici, with her harem of beautiful spies. When murder strikes at the heart of the Palace, Bruno finds himself on the trail of a killer who is protecting a terrible secret. With the royal houses of France and England under threat, Bruno must expose the truth – or be silenced for good…
- Execution – England, 1586. Giordano Bruno, heretic turned spy, passes on vital information to spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham. A band of Catholic Englishmen are plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth and install Mary, Queen of Scots, on the English throne. Walsingham, already aware of the plot, is allowing it to progress. He hopes that Mary will put her support in writing – and condemn herself to a traitor’s death. Bruno must go undercover, join the conspirators and stop them. A queen is destined to die; Bruno must make sure it is the right one…
- Alchemy – Prague, 1588. The Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, wants to expand the boundaries of human knowledge, and his court is a haven for scientists, astrologers and alchemists. His abiding passion is the feverish search for the philosopher’s stone and thus immortality. The Catholic Church fears he has pushed too far, into the forbidden realm of heresy – and the greatest powers in Christendom are concerned about the imperial line of succession. Giordano Bruno is sent to his court by Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s spymaster. His task: to contact the famous English alchemist and mystic John Dee, another of Walsingham’s spies. But Bruno’s arrival in Prague coincides with the brutal murder of a rival alchemist – and John Dee himself has disappeared.
Other books published under the name Stephanie Merritt
- Gaveston (2002) – Gaveston is a journey into the dark heart of obsession and sexual politics by one of the rising stars of contemporary British fiction.When Gaby Harvey, daughter of media magnate Sir Edward Hamilton Harvey and research student at the prestigious St Dunstan’s College, first sets eyes on Piers Gaveston, she immediately senses danger. Aloof, narcissistic and devastatingly attractive, Gaveston’s charms still prove irresistible to Gaby and as he works his way through the London media world, so he works a way into her affections, with devastating consequences.
- Real (2005) – Greg is a fading middle-aged actor whose family life has long since become stale; Sally is a struggling young playwright. When they’re thrown together to do a West End play, they plunge into a reckless affair that seems to offer an escape into fantasy . . . until Sally makes a shocking discovery that brings them face to face with real life again.
- The Devil Within (2009) – Stephanie’s unflinchingly honest memoir explores areas of experience commonly associated with depression such as love, solitude and self-medication through the prism of her own experience.
- While You Sleep (2018) – On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace. For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: night-time intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched. The locals want her to believe that these incidents are echoes of the McBrides’ dark past. Zoe is convinced the danger is closer at hand, and all too real – but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?
If you like our article about the S.J. Parrish reading order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in the John Shakespeare series by Rory Clements, the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom, the Marwood and Lovett series, the Matthew Bartholomew series by Susanna Gregory, the Nicholas Shelby series by S.W. Perry, or the classic Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters.