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Dissolution - a murder mystery!
Dissolution - C.J. Sansom
Member Name: AlmshoeRachy
Dissolution - C.J. Sansom
Date: 19/10/11, updated on 19/10/11 (40 review reads)
Advantages: Great reading - couldn't put it down
Disadvantages: Starts off slow
C J (Christopher John) Sansom is a historical fiction author. He was born in Edinburgh, a studied at Birmingham University where he took a BA, then a PHD in history. Several years later he retrained as a solicitor before becoming a full time writer. His Matthew Shardlake series so far consists of five books, Dissolution being the first published in 2003.
The Matthew Shardlake series is set in the sixteenth Century, when Henry VIII is on the throne, just after the beheading of Anne Boleyn. Matthew is a hunchbacked lawyer making a profitable living in London, partly thanks to the patronage of Lord Thomas Cromwell due to his Reformist views.
The first book in the series sees Shardlake travel to Scarnsea on the Sussex coast to investigate the murder of one of Lord Cromwell's commissioners, Robin Singleton. Singleton was sent there to investigate the monastery prior to the dissolution, when all the money, treasures and lands belonging to any monastic orders where taken by the king.
The book starts off a little slow, and at first I wondered whether or not to continue. The fact that the hero of a book is a hunchback seemed quite strange at first, especially in a time when they were considered to be unlucky and could be shunned by society. Shardlake was bullied and taunted through his youth because of this, and was unable to take over his fathers farm, instead moving to London to train to be a lawyer. Shardlake is also not the most loveable character to start off with (perhaps understandably due to the bullying) - he comes across rude and obnoxious at times. I am glad I stuck with it though. As Shardlake develops relationships with other characters throughout the book, he becomes more likable. He meets characters in this book that will continue through with him and are mentioned in the later books, so it is well worth reading them in order to avoid confusion. It shows his changing relationship with Cromwell as he finds out more about his involvement in the downfall of Anne Boleyn, where his Reformist views are tested.
I thought Dissolution was a great book! It is a real page turner that you can get completely lost in, and kept me guessing to the end! I was given this as part of the World Book Night and am so glad that I was. I enjoyed it so much I have gone on to read the rest of the series. Samson is a great story teller. He involves you completely with the characters, even if they are slow to warm too, and I really wanted to find out what happened. The book is rich and descriptive, and educational! I found it incredibly interesting reading about the dissolution of the monasteries, and felt incredibly sorry for the poor monks who did nothing but become too rich for the Kings liking. It shows the ruthlessness of people like Cromwell to ensure that they did not fall from the Kings favour, and the vulnerability of those left at his mercy.
I would recommend to anyone, especially with an interest in the Tudor times as this paints a fascinating picture of the times - five stars from me!
Also published on Ciao as MrsW2011.
Summary: Excellent book, well worth reading.