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.
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57