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.
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,
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
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