The Devils of Cardona by Matthew Carr

The Devils of Cardona
Matthew Carr

Riverhead Books

Late sixteenth century Spain has its share of troubles. The reverberations from the Reconquista that saw the end of Muslim rule in parts of the country left it unsettled.

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“. . . historical fiction with a difference.”

The subjugated Moriscos, former Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism, try to live quiet lives to avoid persecution. Should they stray from the rigid path defined for them by Church and State, they can expect brutal suppression led by the all-pervading Inquisition.

Some parts of the country see Old Christians and Moriscos living in peace. One such place is Cardona, ruled over by the wise and benevolent Countess. So peaceful is the area that when the unpopular priest of a village within her jurisdiction is brutally murdered in a sacrilegious fashion it immediately draws the attention of the king. Judge Mendoza is sent to investigate and bring the killers to justice. He soon discovers Cardona is a powder-keg, and someone calling himself the Redeemer is striking the match that will set the whole area ablaze. More murders follow, increasing the religious strife between Moriscos and Old Christians. Faced with the increasing probability that the king will send in the army to pacify the area, Mendoza has to race against time to identify the Redeemer amid rising tension. There may be a traitor in his midst, and the Countess appears to have a fatal secret to hide. 

In The Devils of Cardona, Matthew Carr presents a gripping murder-mystery set against a richly-detailed portrait of sixteenth century Spain. One for lovers of historical fiction with a difference.


Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews