This is the second of Sansom's Shardlake novels; it follows Dissolution.
Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer practising in Tudor London. He has to defend a young girl accused of pushing her half brother down a well. To gain time on this case, he agrees to investigate an alchemist who claims to have discovered the secrets behind Greek Fire, a flame that burns on water and could be used in naval battles. Murders follow.
This is a fun romp through the London to the background of Henry VIII's marriage problems with Ann of Cleves and the impending fall of Shardlake's boss, Thomas Cromwell. The best character is the bully-boy side-kick, Jack Barak, a grown-up street urchin of Jewish descent. Hunchbacked Shardlake is also interesting but the other characters do not convince. The plot is not the tightest example of the whodunnit genre but it certainly keeps you reading along. The scenery is interesting and there is a thriller element. But the puzzle fails to convince.
OK. I'll read the next one!
August 2014; 576 pages
Also see reviews of other Shardlake novels Dissolution and Heartstone.
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57