Dissolution by C.J. Sansom on another Teaser Tuesday blog and knew it was a book I'd want to read. Oh, it was great. And what's more, Sansom's written several more books with the same character. Whoo hoo hoo! A new mystery series for me to sink my teeth into. And set during the English Reformation, too, to satisfy my nerdly Anglican heart.
Our hero is a hunchbacked lawyer, a very likable protagonist, named Matthew Shardlake. In Dissolution, Shardlake is sent by Thomas Cromwell to the Monastery of St. Donatus, Scarnsea to solve the murder of another lawyer, sent by Cromwell earlier to encourage the monastery to "voluntarily" give up their lands and property. In the course of trying to figure out what's going on at the monastery, Shardlake himself is disabused of some of his idealism about the new world he hoped the English Reformation would usher in. He discovers that people remain human, no matter their theological stance; his own heroes take a serious drubbing as he uncovers dirty details everywhere he goes.
The book reads like a movie--and I mean that as a compliment. I hope it won't be made into a movie because I've already seen the one in my head. But the plot, the characters, the settings are all very vivid and compelling. Sansom certainly knows the trick of ending a chapter so you want to read the next one.
But the most compelling thing for me was that Shardlake didn't just figure out what happened; he learned more about himself in the process. And by so doing opened up for me a better understanding of the time in which he lived, and also of my own.