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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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    • By Tay
      Well following on from a post from Dan about posting reviews, here is a short (very short) review.
      Spring 1543, an aging and ailing King Henry the Eighth is awaiting an answer to his proposal of marriage to Catherine Parr.
      The mystery solving lawyer Mathew Shardlake returns in this the fourth book of the series. This is a tale of religious intolerance and horrific murders committed in the name of a God. It’s a good mystery thriller with plenty of red herrings that kept this reader guessing.
      If you like a good murder mystery this is a good series to try though I would advise reading them in order, starting with Dissolution.
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      Finished this last night! Thoroughly enjoyed it. So long as you don't mind characters from 1540 using modern English (not modern slang, so it reads OK). I'm quite intrigued to find out how many of the peripheral characters actually existed.
      If you enjoy a good murder mystery, this is worth a try.
    • By chuntzy
      So far I've read his last Shardlake, Revelation, and am now half way through Dissolution, his first.
      Do you think all four are equally good or that certain ones have the edge?
    • By hannibalheyes
      I was so looking forward to this book, being a complete devotee of Shardlake and all his pals, and it was well worth the wait.
      The historical details are there, the plotlines keep you guessing, and Shardlake is every bit as meticulous and infuriating as ever. Loved the Mary Rose sequences, and I now have a little knowledge of Tudor naval exploits.
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