Friday, 9 January 2009


revelation shardlake Over Christmas I read this book. It is the fourth in the "Shardlake" series, and having read the first three books, I was grateful to my friend Ian for lending me his copy.

The blurb says "It is 1543 and King Henry is wooing Lady Catherine Parr. Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court are watching keenly, for she has reformist sympathies.
Matthew Shardlake, meanwhile, is working on the case of a teenage boy, who has been placed by the King's council in the Bedlam hospital for the insane. Then, when an old friend is horrifically murdered, Shardlake promises his widow to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him to connections not only with the boy in Bedlam, but with Archbishop Cranmer and Catherine Parr, and with the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation.
As London's Bishop Bonner prepares a purge of Protestants, Shardlake follows the trail of a series of horrific murders that shake them to the core. Murders which are already bringing about frenzied talk of witchcraft and a demonic possession, for what else would the Tudor mind make of a serial killer?"

bonner's cottages I really enjoyed the book. Prior to going to London to serve the King, Bonner was Rector at Dereham, in Norfolk. That was the town where I grew up. His Tudor Cottages beside the church are now maintained as a Museum, so that was an added interest.

I am really enjoying this series - it manages to combine many of the things I enjoy in novels

  • a good mystery [but not as contrived as Agatha Christie]
  • plenty of Tudor stuff [but pleasingly less romantic than Philippa Gregory] I do enjoy the Tudor period!
  • the main protagonist deals with questions of faith [without being as twee as Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael]
  • Sansom makes excellent use of language [up there with Colin Dexter and Morse]
  • accurate description of the location [mostly set in London . Ian Rankin places his Rebus in Edinburgh with similar skill]
  • the sort of incidental detail which sends me scurrying to research some more about the history behind it.

I haven't decided what to read next - maybe I should work though some of the books I gave Bob for Christmas. I did read The Thirty Nine Steps just before we watched it on TV. Perhaps I should work through my Dorothy L Sayers again- I have enjoyed listening to "The Man Born To be King" on BBC7 this week.

But I cannot do any reading until I have done the ironing!


  1. How nice that you have an old railroad whistle! Some of my relatives from a long time ago were "railroad men." I love old trains. Thanks for writing me!

  2. C J Sansom is excellent on Tudor/Rennaissance atmosphere and the somewhat shady interplay between Reformation politics and religion. I only hope he continues to write books of such a high calibre.

    For a 2Oth century, largely Anglican, perspective on the relation between religion, sex and psychology the Starbridge novels of Susan Howatch are excellent.

  3. Wonderful books Sansom and Howatch. The Howatch books helped me to retain my Christian Faith during a difficult period of my life. The Sansom ones remind me that the Reformation wasn't quite as "pure and holy" as my evangelical background tried to present it.


  4. I really must try the Howatch ones again - last time I picked one up, I just couldn't get into it at all. I will check out our library and see if they have them. Thanks for this suggestion


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