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Book Review: Lamentation by C.J. Sansom


Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Lamentation is set during the summer of 1456, during the reign of the dying Henry VIII. The hunt is on for heretics and Catherine Parr, King Henry’s sixth and last wife, is in terrible danger. She reaches out to Matthew Shardlake, a hunchbacked lawyer who has helped her before. He loves and admires the queen, and takes on the case of investigating the theft of a manuscript she has written, a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner. With images of the horrific burning at the stake of four people accused of heresy in the opening chapter, Shardlake shows considerable courage in taking on this case. In the wrong hands this very Protestant of books could be a death sentence for them all in times when the pendulum seems to swinging back to Catholicism.

Helping him on the case is his assistants Barak and Nicholas, but they soon find themselves in the midst of a conspiracy that goes to all corners of the court. This is a page-turning historical novel that perfectly blends facts and fiction. The Tudor period is endlessly fascinating, and here C.J. Sansom captures the complexity of court, both its lavish beauty and its factional politics.

C.J. Sansom also proposes a new theory about Henry VIII’s deteriorating health that he was in the late stages of diabetes (not syphilis as some have thought).

I haven’t read the previous five Shardlake novels, but I plan to devour them all as soon as possible. I was impressed with Shardlake’s intelligence and compassion, and would be interested to read about the other wives of Henry VIII’s in this cruel but fascinating period of history. This is detective fiction like no other!

#bookreviews #historicalfiction

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