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BOOK REVIEW: Dissolution by CJ Sansom

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Henry VIII has ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and England is full of informers. At the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control with the murder of Commissioner Robin Singleton. Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer, and his assistant are sent to investigate.


 Dissolution is the first in a series of utterly brilliant murder mysteries set during the reign of Henry VIII. The story begins in 1537, a time just before the dissolution of the English monasteries. Anne Boleyn has lost her head, and the country is in turmoil. Matthew Shardlake, a young hunchbacked lawyer, is sent to deal with the murder of a royal commissioner within a Sussex monastery. A black cockerel has been sacrificed on the altar, and the monastery’s famous relic has been stolen. Matthew must unravel one of the most intricate and dangerous mysteries of his short career. I can’t recommend this series enough to anyone who loves historical crime fiction – it's a humdinger. 

I've also read & reviewed C. J. Sansom's book Lamentations here 

REVIEW: Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lamentation (Matthew Shardlake #6)

by C.J. Sansom

The Blurb:
As Henry VIII lies on his deathbed, an incendiary manuscript threatens to tear his court apart in the new installment of C.J. Sansom's Shardlake series.

Autumn, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors prepare for a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government. The Catholics decide to focus their attack on Henry's sixth wife, the Protestant Queen Catherine Parr. As Catherine begins to lose the King's favor, she turns to the shrewd, hunchbacked lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, to contain a potentially fatal secret.

The Queen has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, a memoir so radical that if it came to the King's attention, it could bring her and her courtly sympathizers to ruination. The London printer into whose hands she entrusted the manuscript has been murdered, the book nowhere to be found.

Shardlake's investigations take him down a trail that begins among printshops in the filthy backstreets of London, but leads him once more to the labyrinthine world of court politics, where Protestant friends can be as dangerous as Catholic enemies, and those who will support either side to further their ambition are the most dangerous of all.

What I Thought:
Lamentation is the latest in a series of utterly brilliant, devious and evocative Tudor murder mysteries by C. J. Sansom. The series features a hunchbacked young lawyer called Matthew Shardlake, in the final years of Henry VIII’s rule. The novel begins with the burning of heretics, one of them a young woman named Ann Askew. She is a true historical figure, and the only woman known to have been tortured in the Tower. Henry’s last wife, Catherine Parr, is under suspicion for sympathizing with the heretics, who are all Protestant. Matthew is called in to help her solve the mystery of a missing book, and the string of unexplained murders that follow. As always, the world of Tudor England is brought to vivid and putrid life, with the obese and malevolent figure of the king brooding over all. This is historical crime at its best. Start with Dissolution, the first book in the series, and read in order. 


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