Lamentation - The Shardlake series (Hardback)C. J. Sansom (author)
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Matthew Shardlake is back in Lamentation, from the number one bestselling author C. J. Sansom.
King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government of Henry's successor, eight-year-old Prince Edward. As heretics are hunted across London, and the radical Protestant Anne Askew is burned at the stake, the Catholic party focus their attack on Henry's sixth wife, Matthew Shardlake's old mentor, Queen Catherine Parr.
Shardlake, still haunted by events aboard the warship Mary Rose the year before, is working on the Cotterstoke Will case, a savage dispute between rival siblings. Then, unexpectedly, he is summoned to Whitehall Palace and asked for help by his old patron, the now beleaguered and desperate Queen.
For Catherine Parr has a secret. She has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King's attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. But, although the book was kept secret and hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen's private chamber, it has - inexplicably - vanished. Only one page has been found, clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.
Shardlake's investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London but leads him and Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of the politics of the royal court; a world he had sworn never to enter again. Loyalty to the Queen will drive him into a swirl of intrigue inside Whitehall Palace, where Catholic enemies and Protestant friends can be equally dangerous, and the political opportunists, who will follow the wind wherever it blows, more dangerous than either.
The theft of Queen Catherine's book proves to be connected to the terrible death of Anne Askew, while his involvement with the Cotterstoke litigants threatens to bring Shardlake himself to the stake.
The previous books in the bestselling Shardlake series are Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation and Heartstone.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 656
Weight: 981 g
Dimensions: 242 x 158 x 52 mm
Shardlake's back and better than ever . . . The plot and pacing make this the best Shardlake yet . . . it is a vision of how individuals find the moral courage to fight injustice which links the Shardlake novels to Sansom's other fictions, Winter in Madrid and Dominion. Lamentation, like its predecessors, is a triumph both as detective fiction and as a novel . . . Sansom's deep feeling for the psychology of religious faith and for the defenceless, makes him, in my view superior to Hilary Mantel. * Independent on Sunday *
Lamentation starts with the burning of heretics, and the smell of fear and dissent infuses the whole novel . . . Sansom is highly skilled at weaving together the threads of his plot with the real and riveting history . . . Lamentation is a wonderful, engaging read. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion is brilliantly rendered. Shardlake is always convincing, and he is endearingly battle-scarred and weary from his earlier adventures. The real characters are well drawn, especially Catherine Parr and the young Elizabeth, who makes a striking cameo appearance. Sansom cleverly keeps the king just off stage for most of the novel. We can sense him lurking in the shadows - a monstrously obese and malevolent presence. As the plot draws to a clever and satisfying conclusion, Sansom gives us a clue about where the king's death will take Shardlake; and it is a spine-tingling prospect. * The Times *
As always, Sansom conjures the atmosphere, costumes and smells of Tudor London with vigour, from the gilded halls of Whitehall Palace to the dungeons of the Tower . . . once Shardlake finds himself in real jeopardy [the novel] quickly picks up pace, all the way to a shocking climax that promises to mark a new chapter for Shardlake, and for England. * Observer *
Sansom brilliantly conveys the uncertainty of the time when a frail young prince would ascend the throne with different factions fighting for regency . . . Sansom has the gift of plunging us into the different worlds of the period: the premises of a struggling young printer whose only asset is his press, a dangerous possession when this newfangled invention could implicate the printer in treason and heresy . . . There is a sadness about this novel which suggests that Shardlake's own world is breaking up - his great companion, Barak, who provides the physical strength the disabled lawyer lacks, gets into fearful straits - but it ends on a hopeful note for the many followers of this splendid series, which combines the imaginative insights of fiction with scholarly research. We see Shardlake carried safely downriver to join the budding court of the young Elizabeth, auguring well for his future. * Independent *
So engrossing is the tale that I didn't pause long enough to take a note. Even when judged by the high standards of the earlier Shardlake novels, this one stands out - not least because it successfully maintains suspense for over 600 pages . . . It is a mark of authorial self-discipline that Sansom wears his considerable historical research lightly, subordinating it to character and action. As in the earlier volumes, historical figures such as Richard Rich and the young William Cecil are successfully evoked without typecasting or self-indulgence disguised as empathy. There are also some memorable minor characters, such as the tragic and vexatious litigant, Isabel Slanning, who contribute to the sinuously-unfolding story in often unexpected ways. The orchestration of plot over 600 pages, and the final twist, is literary craft of a high order. Historical fiction - especially historical crime fiction - has often been regarded as a literary branchline, interesting and picturesque but not quite the real thing. This now is changing, and rightly, since the qualities required to evoke imagined historical worlds are precisely those involved in rendering the present. With the Shardlake series, and with this volume in particular, Sansom has surely established himself as one of the best novelists around. * Spectator *
This is a terrific book . . . It is a convincing account of a cruel and fascinating period and a very exciting read. * Literary Review *
...the Tudor Holmes finds himself plunged into crisis at the English Court...Sansom recreates a fascinating era as he carries the reader along with Shardlake on his diligent and perilous quest, criss-crossing medieval London from the luxury of the royal palaces at Whitehall to the filthy backstreets of the city. * Daily Mail *
...a dark and atmospheric story... Shardlake deserves his wide and rapturous readership. -- Antonia Senior * The Times *
Sansom has an extraordinary gift for atmosphere: he immerses the reader in the sights, sounds, smells and dreadful paranoia of life in the last days of Henry VIII . . . Utterly gripping -- Marian Keyes * Irish Times, Books of the Year *
Chosen as one of Antonia Fraser's Books of the Year. -- Antonia Fraser
This, the sixth of CJ Sansom's Shardlake novels, unsurprisingly went straight to the top of the bestseller list as soon as it was published. Such is their reputation. Every book is a delight, and each one that little bit better than the last... Sansom's skill as a writer , coupled with his exhaustive research, makes readers feel as if they are living in the period he is writing about. Hilary Mantel may gobble up the big literary prizes for her explorations of the complex mind of Shardlake's old boss, Thomas Cromwell, but when it comes to recreating the authentic atmosphere of 500 years ago Sansom wins hands down. -- Nigel Nelson * Tribune *
Packed with accurate and atmospheric historical detail... In a crowded Tudor field, this novel finds Sansom again at the top of his game. * Daily Telegraph *
Sansom's inventive Tudor fiction sequence combines a scholarly intelligence with the suspense and surprises of the detective genre... Lamentation is sure to give Sansom's many fans further cause for jubilation. -- Peter Kemp * Sunday Times *
Highly intelligent historical fiction and a guaranteed chart-topper * Daily Express *
Sansom cleverly keeps the king just off stage for most of the novel but we can sense his monstrously obese and malevolent presence lurking in the shadows. The threads of Sansom's plot are skilfully woven together with real and riveting history -- Antonia Senior * The Times *
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