Trusted Serjeant at Law Matthew Shardlake is summoned by the Queen, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr and is given the task of finding something that has been stolen from her. The official cover story is that a precious jewel has been stolen because if the truth got out and reached the King then not only her life would be in danger, but those around her who had been helping her. The stolen item is a book she had written about her past “sins”, called Lamentations of a Sinner, hence the title of this book, and the novel follows Matthew’s hunt to retrieve it to save her life. There are a couple of subplots to this too, but I won’t spoil it for readers who haven’t yet read the earlier books in the series.
My overall impression?
I absolutely loved this book, as I have the others previously written in this series. The amount of detail about Tudor England is stunning, and you can tell that C J Sansom has spent a lot of time doing his research. The use of people who actually existed brings the story to life, and it is easy to fall into the machinations and daily lives of Henry’s London.
Who are the main characters?
There is quite an extensive cast-list in this book, which could become confusing but as they are introduced slowly it is easy to keep up with who’s who. The central character is Matthew Shardlake, the main protagonist in previous books, and he has a small band of assistants who help him including Jack Barak and Nicholas Overton. They both play an important role in several scenes and without them, Matthew would certainly be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle. The royal court has a whole host of other characters, but the main ones are Queen Catherine and her loyal uncle, Lord Parr. Other characters (who really existed) include Sir Richard Rich and Lord Paget, and of course, King Henry VIII himself.
Where is it set?
It is set in Tudor London and the action mostly centres on a couple of the royal palaces (Whitehall and Hampton Court) but Shardlake’s rooms at Lincoln’s Inn and his house also play a prominent role.
Will I read the next in the series?
Absolutely YES. As I said earlier, I have loved all of these books and as they progress they are getting better and better. Not only are the characters becoming more established but the detail is getting clearer too. They don’t read like history books at all, although it is impossible not to receive a history lesson from them!
Would I recommend it to my friends?
This book would suit readers who like historical fiction and those who enjoy crime fiction. The historical setting doesn’t prevent it being an excellent who-dunnit so it would suit a wide range of reading appetites.