As Henry VIII lies on his deathbed, an incendiary manuscript threatens to tear his court apart.
Summer, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councilors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government. As heretics are hunted across London, and radical Protestants are burned at the stake, the Catholic party focuses its attack on Henry's sixth wife - and Matthew Shardlake's old mentor - Queen Catherine Parr.
Shardlake, still haunted by his narrow escape from death the year before, steps into action when the beleaguered and desperate Queen summons him to Whitehall Palace to help her recover a dangerous manuscript. The Queen has authored a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King's attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. Although the secret book was kept hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen's private chamber, it has inexplicably vanished. Only one page has been recovered - clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.
Shardlake's investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London, but leads him and his trusty assistant Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of court politics, a world Shardlake swore never to enter again. In this crucible of power and ambition, Protestant friends can be as dangerous as Catholic enemies, and those with shifting allegiances can be the most dangerous of all.
"A richly entertaining and scholarly series. History never seemed so real." (New York Times Book Review)
"Sansom seems to have born with, or instinctively acquired, that precious balance of creativity and research, history and humanity." (Chicago Tribune)
"Sansom offers a master class in royal intrigue" (Kirkus Reviews)
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History Lesson that Goes Down Like Ice Cream
Crossley voices his characters effortlessly. It is a tribute that I can't imagine the Shardlake books without him as narrator.
- Mark Butterman
Lawyer/Detective solves mystery in Tudor England
This is an excellent detective story set in Tudor Times. It is the sixth of a series featuring Mathew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer and sleuth. Although this particular novel is excellent, it is not my favorite of the series (that continues to be "Sovereign"). "Lamentation" is a very rich and entertaining experience, and absolute heaven for a reader like me, who loves historical novels and murder mysteries/detectives stories almost equally. This series of novels is extremely well written. The characters are exquisitely developed; we find some famous Tudor figures such as archbishop Cramner and Catherine Parr playing parts in the intricate plot but there are many totally fictional characters that are equally or more important than the historical figures; it is the ordinary Tudor citizen that really brings to the reader the richness of the times. The novels are very well researched and as historically accurate as fictional pieces such as these can be
The plot keeps you interested and the writer manages to move the story forward at a pretty good pace although the reader gets to know characters who may not necessarily be central to the plot very well and all of this contributes to making the times jump at the reader. Before you know it, you are really in the filthy streets of Tudor London talking to a street urchin or watching a nobleman and his retinue heading to court.
The narrator is excellent. I believe all the Shardlake books I have heard are narrated by him. He inhabits the character so well that to me he is Shardlake.
Yes and no. I love historical novels and like to savor those, such as this one, that immerse you in the times. I have come to care about some of these characters (there are several that accompany Shardlake through other offerings in the series) and I like to enjoy my time with them. The mystery is almost an excuse...
I strongly recommend this book and the entire series, as a matter of fact. If you are not a lover of historical fiction you may get the bug after reading one of these. Yes, we already know Henry and his matrimonial issues; we know his queens and of course, we know that Catherine Parr was the last and very well educated and we may even know that he had problems with her over religion and almost had her imprisoned but that in the end he died with her as his queen. But who cares! When Mathew Shardlake is called to court to help locate a compromising book written by the Queen (without Henry's knowledge) called "Lamentations of a Sinner" that has been stolen...we get on his horse "Genesis" with him and go there...at full gallop!