I was very pleased to see a new Shardlake recently, this one is set in the final months of Henry VIII’s reign, Shardlake is lured back to court by his fondness for Queen Catherine and he helps her when an incendiary book goes missing. This of course puts him and the people he works with in danger.

I thought the book was in most parts good but it dragged a bit in the middle, with endless scenes of Shardlake and others going over plot points as if the author thinks that the plot would be too complicated to follow without endless repetition. Also the characters had the annoying habit of yelling at the other characters when the reason why they were yelling had nothing to do with the person they were yelling at, so for people who were meant to be such good friends, it seemed odd, although yes, I realise they were under stress.

But overall I liked the book, it’s been so long since the last Shardlake I had thought there might not be any more, so although I don’t normally give half stars to my reviews, I would have given it 3 1/2 stars but I’ve bumped it up to 4 stars out of relief that the series has continued. I also really appreciated a chance to learn more about those last few months in Henry’s reign, as although the Lamentation (the missing book) going missing is fictional, Sansom has based the political intrigue and religious upheaval in the book, on real events (as his essay at the back of the book shows). I also like the fact that the book ends with Shardlake positioned to have more adventures, I do really hope there is more.

**** (out of 5)


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