Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be ...
Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege - a black cockerel sacrificed on the alter, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake's investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes ...
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Very interesting reading about a topic which is not known outside England.
Claudia N D
Jul 1, 2010
History and fiction perfectly combined.
Dissolution is the first in the Shardlake historical mysteries by Sansom. From the first page, you will be hooked. Atmospheric, suspenseful, evocative and exciting--these novels are wonderful.
Sansom's use of language is a delight to lovers of fine literature. Wordies will have more than enough to feed that passion. Others who just want a good story won't feel the need to pick up a dictionary every other sentence.
Sansom draws his characters with a good eye for human nature. His best retain sufficient flaws for believability; his most villainous remain human.
History buffs rejoice! Sansom has done the research. You will live in those streets! You will step in that poo! You will experience the grandeur and the grime. You will look into the eyes of the contemporaries of Henry VIII, and you will know them for what they were.
Sansom grinds no axes; take the good with the bad. Unless you are a Tudor scholar, you will learn something, and you will enjoy it.
I can't wait for the next installment!
Oct 12, 2007
An excellent new addition to historical crime
In recent years, several writers have produced historical crime novels that are merely following a trend and are of limited merit. However, 'Dissolution' is in an entirely different league. The quality of the writing is superb and even minor characters are very finely drawn with personalities developed and given shading and depth. In Shardlake, Sansom has created an immensely likeable central figure and the strengths and frailties of this 'crookback lawyer' engage the reader very effectively. The plot is well crafted: there were echoes of 'The Name of the Rose' in the complex events of a monastry on the brink of dissolution in Tudor England, but Sansom avoided making it too convoluted to be followed. Some historical domestic aspects perhaps lacked realism, but that didn't detract in any way from a superb novel that left me wanting more.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-03-17 Murders on the grounds of a monastery, 16th-century intrigue, an unconventional sleuth-readers might wonder if this is a knock-off Name of the Rose set two centuries later, but Sansom's debut is a compelling historical mystery in its own right, with fewer pyrotechnics and plenty of period detail. It is 1537; the English Reformation is in full swing; and Lord Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's vicar-general, is busy shutting down papist institutions. When one of his commissioners is beheaded at a remote Benedictine monastery, Cromwell dispatches a second emissary, hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, to investigate the murder. What Shardlake and his companion, eager young Mark Poer, discover is a quietly bubbling cesspool of corruption, lust and avarice. The scope of the investigation quickly expands when a novice is poisoned and Shardlake finds the remains of a girl who served the monks in the monastery pond. Shardlake presses on by testing the alibis of the various corrupt monks, but Poer's objectivity is compromised when he becomes involved with the girl's successor, a bright, attractive woman named Alice Fewterer. As the investigation unfolds, Shardlake survives a murder attempt, and finally returns to London to tie his findings to higher-level intrigue. Sansom paints a vivid picture of the corruption that plagued England during the reign of Henry VIII, and the wry, rueful Shardlake is a memorable protagonist, a compassionate man committed to Cromwell's reforms, but increasingly doubtful of the motives of his fellow reformers. With this cunningly plotted and darkly atmospheric effort, Sansom proves himself to be a promising newcomer. (Apr. 28) Forecast: Readers who want something a step up in complexity from Ellis Peters's Cadfael series will find this satisfying fare. Foreign rights have already been sold in England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain, and Sansom will be introduced in the U.S. with a six-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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