During the political upheaval of Tudor-era England, the lawyer Matthew Shardlake must decide where his loyalties lie in "one of the best ongoing mystery series" for fans of Hilary Mantel (Christian Science Monitor).
LONGLISTED FOR THE SIR WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION
Spring, 1549. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos.
The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle, Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Edward's regent and Protector. In the kingdom, radical Protestants are driving the old religion into extinction, while the Protector's prolonged war with Scotland has led to hyperinflation and economic collapse. Rebellion is stirring among the peasantry.
Matthew Shardlake has been working as a lawyer in the service of Henry's younger daughter, the lady Elizabeth. The gruesome murder of one of Elizabeth's distant relations, rumored to be politically murdered, draws Shardlake and his companion Nicholas to the lady's summer estate, where a second murder is committed.
As the kingdom explodes into rebellion, Nicholas is imprisoned for his loyalty, and Shardlake must decide where his loyalties lie -- with his kingdom, or with his lady?
Set in 1549 England, Sansom's outstanding seventh novel featuring lawyer Matthew Shardlake (after 2015's Lamentation) finds Shardlake working for Thomas Parry, the comptroller in charge of the household finances for the future Elizabeth I. Parry summons Shardlake to undertake a highly sensitive investigation. A woman has shown up at Lady Elizabeth's Norfolk residence, claiming to be Edith Boleyn, the widow of John, a distant relative of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. Edith said she had just been dispossessed of her property, but Parry, who grew increasingly suspicious of her bona fides, turned her away. Eleven days later, a shepherd found the woman's naked corpse in a stream, her head bashed in. The shepherd was employed by a landowner engaged in a bitter territory dispute with the very much alive John Boleyn. John's muddy shoes matched footprints near the grim discovery, and a hammer with traces of blood and hair was found in his stables. Elizabeth herself requests that Shardlake look into the crime. Shardlake's search for the truth behind the murder coincides with the massive peasant uprising known as Kett's Rebellion. Non-mystery readers interested in Tudor England will be equally enthralled.