The Inquisitor by David Penny

This is the second novel about Thomas Berrington, physician by profession and a sleuth by virtue of a rabid curiosity. The setting is Spain in the reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella. Thomas arrives in Seville to treat the queen who is pregnant and bleeding. Within the first hours, he meets old friends and enemies and some who could be either one. He is also caught up in the mystery surrounding a terrifying figure called The Ghost, who kills his victims by opening their chests and taking out their hearts. Thomas’s fiancé arrives with some other interesting characters, I presume from the first book. Oh, and plague is on the rise in the city. There is more than enough to keep Thomas occupied and the reader interested.

Aside from these elements, the new characters flesh out the story with a love affair, the tragic end of a pregnancy and a kidnapping. This is not a standard who-done-it. Why The Ghost has committed such bizarre murders and when he will be caught provide the suspense. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Thomas and his friend Jorge, a eunuch (not sure if that is the proper term here) who is, apparently, an incorrigible and gifted lover of women.

The plot was simple and easy to follow. The sub-plots plumped up the storyline.

I had some issues with this book. First, the title. None of the characters was an Inquisitor, nor was the Inquisition involved except peripherally. I read a lot of pointless dialogue that neither advanced the story nor said anything about the character.  Without all that, the book would have been shorter and better. I also I did not find the ‘twist’ at the end altogether credible.

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