Lamentation

Written by C J Samson

Review written by Laura Skippen

Laura Skippen is an obsessive reader and loves crime books, thrillers and history, preferably all three. All this reading (others might call it procrastination) means she has yet to get any of her own ideas on paper.


Lamentation
Mantle
RRP: £20.00
Released: October 23, 2014
Hbk

Violent religious extremism, ruthless politicians switching sides to gain power as the possibility of a new government looms and a country recovering from the aftermath of a financially punishing war. No, not the front pages of the national newspapers, instead read the new Shardlake novel where, as usual, C.J. Sansom makes the events of 500 years ago thrillingly relevant and alive.

Lawyer Matthew Shardlake is still recovering from surviving the disaster of the Mary Rose and has a difficult legal case of warring siblings on his hands. He is determined to keep his head down, and off the executioner’s block, after his previous involvement in political matters. The king is dying and like a wounded animal is more dangerous than ever. Traditional Catholic supporters are hunting down and burning heretics across London, whilst the great family dynasties of the day scramble for power over the future boy-king, Prince Edward.

When Shardlake receives a request for help from his old patron Queen Catherine Parr he cannot resist the call to come to her aid despite the pleadings of his friends, including his usually impetuous assistant Jack Barak. The queen has written a book that places her firmly on the reformist side of religion just as the king appears to be leaning back towards the old ways. Now the book has been stolen, a page of it re-appearing clutched in the hand of a murdered print shop owner with radical leanings.

Shardlake needs all his wit and dogged belief in justice to negotiate the corrupt corridors of Whitehall Palace where he encounters old enemies, as well as a host of new ones, as he races to find the book before it can become known to the king and place the queen in danger. Fortunately Barak is still on hand to help even though he is now a family man, and there is a new assistant, Nicholas, who makes an excellent addition to the cast of favourites.

Lamentation won’t disappoint Shardlake fans or indeed new readers. The lawyer is a wonderful narrator with a plausibly modern mind which makes him easy to relate to, although you are never in doubt as to the period he is living in. Sansom uses real events and characters to create an authentically historical world that is never so detailed as to detract from the story but certainly shows the depth of research that is a hallmark of the series. There were some plot lines that seemed to be irrelevant to the main story but all are skilfully drawn together in the end, although that doesn’t mean everyone gets the ending they deserve; a disadvantage of having to abide by history.

My only complaint with Lamentation, as with all this series, is that I have already finished reading it. For everyone who still has that pleasure, set aside a weekend. Once you are drawn into Shardlake’s Tudor London you won’t come back until the last page, although you’ll probably feel profoundly grateful that you don’t actually have to live there.

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