I’ve just started reading C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (London: Pan, 2003). It’s the first novel in his Shardlake Series, following the sleuthing of hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake during the reign of Henry VIII. Last year I read Sovereign, the third book in the series and enjoyed it immensely. (Yes, I know it seems strange not to start on the first one, but I got it ridiculously cheap for a hardback, and thought I had nothing to lose if I didn’t like it. Amazon had this one discounted, so I took the plunge, along with the latest volume in the series, Revelation.)
I suppose my commendation won’t add much weight to those from Colin Dexter and P.D. James. But James is right, “the sights, the voices, the very smell of this turbulent age seems to rise from the page.” I’m finding it as compelling reading and the previous one I read. Sansom has researched the period well, and although he has written a good fictional story, it feels authentic. I find my appetite for the history of the period whetted, yet again. Now I’m going to have to but a book on Henry VIII in the New Year.
This is not CSI. It’s more Morse set in Reformation times, or Sayers; not so much blood and guts as a good story with lots of intrigue and characterization. I’m trying to resist the temptation to read through it too quickly. I think a novel like this is best savoured slowly, so I’m doing my best, but it is hard as it is a real page turner. It makes a refreshing change from theology, and is helping keep me sane during database development.