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Friday, January 30, 2015

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Lamentation: (Matthew Shardlake #6)

I haven't read all of the books in this series, but the ones I've read have been excellent, and this one kept me fascinated throughout.

Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and hunchback, has seen many changes during the reign of Henry VIII.  Currently heretics and Protestants with radical views are being hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake even as the vicious Henry's health declines.  As the book opens, Shardlake is forced to attend the burning of Anne Askew and two other heretics, a gruesome task.  

When summoned to the aid of Catherine Parr, Henry's sixth and final wife, Shardlake is enlisted to discover a manuscript the queen has written that could easily result in a charge of treason--and there are many who hope to have that happen.  The corrupt and complicated atmosphere of the court is a treacherous mine-field that even those of highest position must navigate.  Not only the queen, but her family, friends, and sympathizers could be brought down, and finding someone to trust in this maelstrom of conflicting religious and political views becomes a formidable undertaking.

Shardlake, whose attachment to Catherine Parr is a kind of unrequited love, will put himself and his friends in danger as he devotes his energies to protecting the queen.  (Whenever  I read about the Tudor period, I'm again aghast at the intricacies and danger associated with the time.  Bloody Mary, Henry's daughter, is well known for her persecution of Protestants, but often overlooked is Henry's persecution of both Catholics and Protestants.)  Almost everyone at court looked for political advancement, yet any misstep could lead to death, not only of the accused, but of family and friends.  

As usual, Sansom does a terrific job with historical facts and atmosphere, with well-rounded characters, and with interesting subplots.   Highly recommended.

NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Historical Mystery.  February 24, 2015.  Print version:  656 pages.


  1. I've always been intrigued by Tudor England, and this does sound good. Great review!

  2. Matthew Shardlake is an interesting character. Sansom has him begin his career under Thomas Cromwell, and originally he is a strong supporter of the Reform, but the more he sees of the political machinations, the more disillusioned he becomes. The first in the series is Dissolution, about the murder of a monk during Henry's efforts to dissolve the monasteries--it is very good, both in plot and historical atmosphere.

  3. I have this one in my queue to read and am looking forward to it--especially after your review. I still haven't read anything by this author despite my meaning to. I wish I had more time to read. :-(

    1. Sansom's research and detail are impeccable, and he writes strong characters and plots. I've also read his Dominion, a stand alone about an alternate history of WWII. I should search out more of his books about Matthew Shardlake--such an interesting period.