Sunday, June 24, 2012

Revelation (Matthew Shardlake Series #4), by C.J. Sansom (author), Simon Jones (reader)

Macmillan UK, ISBN 9780230531932

Matthew Shardlake is absolutely, totally retired from politics. He's not really cut out for the rough play of Tudor politics, and is now devoting himself to his legal career, with the status and distinction of being appointed to practice in the Court of Requests, along with the handicap of being a hunchback. The monasteries are dissolved, Matthew has lost his past fervor for reform--and those now in ascendance at Henry VIII's court are pushing the old, papist ways with as much vigor and brutality as Thomas Cromwell ever pushed Reform. Matthew is glad to be out of it, and happy to agree to his friend Roger's proposal of a fund to create a new hospital for the poor in London, replacing the services once provided by the now-dissolved monasteries.

Then on his way to work at Lincoln's Inn the morning after that conversation, Matthew finds Roger, dead, in the fountain. His throat is slashed, he has bled into the water turning it red, and he has a strangely peaceful look on his face.

When the King's Coroner suspends the inquest for "further investigation," Shardlake finds himself with a choice of walking away from what happened to his friend, or going back into the political world he loathes in order to work with the coroner to investigate a series of horrific murders that may be part of a plan to block King Henry from marrying religious reformist Catherine Parr.

Meanwhile, he also gets a new client, a young man who has been confined to Bedlam for "mad" preaching based in the Book of Revelations. His parents are in deep distress, over their son's behavior, his confinement to Bedlam by the order of the Privy Council, and most of all by the fact that if he's judged not mad, he could be executed for heresy.

And as Matthew juggles these two cases, he finds frightening indications that the two cases are connected, and that the killings aren't over.

Sansom gives us a fascinating and believably gritty view of Tudor England, and the characters are believably gritty too, with the conflicting feelings and goals that come from living life in a complicated, confusing world. This is both an excellent mystery, and an excellent historical novel.


I borrowed this  book from a friend.

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