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  1. For those who haven't come across this series before, the central character is Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer in Henry VIII's reign. The first in the series, Dissolution, has Shardlake visiting a monestry in Kent to judge whether it is suitable for dissolution - it's far from the best in the series but as a piece of descriptive story telling about what it was like to live in Tudor times, in the wnter, it's unbeatable. Lamentation is the sxith in the series, set in 1546 as Henry's health is failing and the Catholic faction amngst his advisors is making one last effort to get him to make peace with Rome and restablish the Catholic church. His wife, Catherine Parr, is known to be strngly reformist, there has already been one attempt to convince Henry to have her arrested (and ultimately burnt at the stake as a heretic), then a book she has written which contains dangerously radical ideas is stolen and Shardlake is called in to try and recover it. I loved this book, Sansom is an absolute master at setting a scene though I must admit that in places his love of his research seemed to have got the better of him and there was a distinct element of info dump. It's a big brute, over 600 pages in hardback, and a good editor could have trimmed 100 of them, but the good parts about the book, the descriptiveness, the charecterisation - Shardlake has a new side-kick who looks like he's going to develop well, and above all the sense of what it must have been like to live in such a dangerous time where a careless and innocent word could lead you into the darkest trouble, where you couldn't be sure who was your friend and who your enemy, especially if you hung around the fringes of the court, easily outweigh the faults. Recommended, number 5 in the series, Heartstone, set the year before is even better.
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