Friday, November 27, 2009

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom

It is 1537 and Thomas Cromwell has ordered that all monastries should be dissolved. Cromwell's Comissioner is found dead, his head severed from his body. Dr Shardlake is sent to uncover the truth behind what has happened. His investigation forces him to question everything that he himself believes.

I have to start the review by saying that I enjoyed it very much and I can't wait to continue with this series. Master Matthew Shardlake, hunchback and commissioner to Lord Thomas Cromwell, is a very interesting and complex character, and Sansom creates a very interesting mystery with plenty historical detail namely the turbulence that surrounded Henry VIII's closing of the monasteries, the political intrigues that were very much a part of his court and the corruption that was common to both places.

Master Shardlake is ordered by Cromwell to go to the Scarnsea monastery and investigate the murder of the commissioner previously sent there to organise the closing of the place. Shardlake goes with his assistant Mark Poer and finds that the previous comissioner had found some problem with the accounts when he was murdered. While the Abbot and the Prior would like to convince themselves and Shardlake that someone from the outside is the murderer, Shardlake is convinced that one of monks must be responsible. Corruption seems to run rampant and more than one of them is hiding a few secrets. Could it be the murder? While trying to understand their motivations, Shardlake also starts to reflect on his life, his choices and his blind faith in Thomas Cromwell...

Unexpectedly a young novice dies and the plot thickens when it discovered that he was poisoned. Shardlake also discovers that the previous helper at the infirmary, a girl named Orphan, disappeared eighteen months before and the mystery of her disappearance may well be related to everything else...

This is one of those books where the mystery is as interesting as the background story; one can't help like Shardlake, not because he is terribly sympathetic but because he is human. He starts very confident in his beliefs and actions and slowly starts to doubt his faith and the rectitude of the man he follows, all that reflex ion of what was going on in England at the time and the worries of the common people whose situation is not improved by the Reform made this a very engaging story and I can't wait to continue reading the series.

Grade: 4.5/5


  1. I cannot tell you how long I have been meaning to read C J Sansom's novels. I own at least one. One day I will actually read it!

    Great review Ana!

  2. I have read and enjoyed all the books in the Shardlake series. Sansom has done a great job developing both the character and the Tudor background. I cannot wait to read his Winter in Madrid. I do hope he plans to add to the Shardlake series.

  3. This sounds like a great series. Shardlake sounds like an interesting character.

  4. I *love* this series! I'm so glad you enjoyed this first installment!


  5. I usually don't go in for mysteries but this sounds captivating! On my list--plus it sounds like a wonderful winter read, good for curling up with a hot tea!