Monday, 5 December 2011

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom **possible spoilers ahead**

Set a year after the execution of Anne Boleyn this book follows Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer and advisor to the Vicar General, Lord Thomas Cromwell. This is during the time of Henry VIII's creation of the Church of England and the country is in turmoil as Cromwell's trusted reformers are sent out to force the closure of the powerful monasteries by collecting evidence against the inhabitants to use as leverage/blackmail.

Following the gruesome murder of one of these men, Robert Singleton, down at Scarnsea Monastery, Cromwell sends Matthew Shardlake down to investigate his murder and continue where Singleton left off.

Heading off in the middle of winter ensures that Matthew and his assistant, Mark, endure the obligatory 'trapped in a dangerous place by snow' theme that seems rather prevalent in historical crime books - possibly due to the convenience of this automatically building up the tension by having them trapped with a murderer. As useful as this plot line is I've read it in the past three or four books of this genre and would like to find something new.

However, this being said, Sansom does still write a good book with a few red herrings and a firm grasp on his knowledge of the time. With the murderer killing again it now becomes more urgent to find out who did it and the list of suspects grows with little solid evidence to assist.

Sansom's first novel is very well written; it flows smoothly from start to finish and is filled with fleshed out characters, even the 'bit' parts. Whereas it does it's best to stray from the 'norm' - even going with the protagonist being an unattractive, hunchback with flawed personality (okay, that last bit is becoming rather norm) - there are still occasions where you may think you've read it before, fear not though as these are few and far between and, irregardless, just blend in to the flow of it all.

All in all, despite thinking this was set in different time after just seeing the name 'Cromwell', this was a good read and I can understand why there was a fair bit of hype about it. However, this wasn't stand out of the ordinary for me. Whilst I enjoyed it, it didn't do anything that'd make me remember it more than any other historical fiction I've read.

If you enjoy this sort of genre then pick this book up for the sake that it is well written with a good plot line and more to come in the series. This may also be a good book if you're interested to get into reading more of this type. I wouldn't say you'll get blown away but this does exactly what you want this sort of book to do - keep you guessing and keep you interested.


CharmaineElaine said...

I think my mum has this book somewhere. If she does, I think I might pick it up. Great review hun. :)

Anonymous said...

First time hearing about this book. It sounds interesting! Awesome review!

Tom Cunliffe said...

Very interesting review. I read that a few months ago. The whole series is very well researched and Matthew Shardlake is a believable character.As you say, the book is well-written

kimba88 said...

good review, there was a lot of hype over this book. I may pick it up..if I can gain some control over my TBR pile..LOL