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Thursday, 5 February 2015

C J Sansom - Lamentation

This review was written by and read live live on the bookshow by  Brian Lowen on 5th Feb 2015
I have read one of this author’s previous books, also set in the Tudor period.
This was called Sovereign and it concerned Henry VIII’s Progress (as it was called) up to the city of York to quell the ill feeling amongst his northern subjects. It was amazing the organisation needed to get the whole court plus soldiers up to York before the days of high speed transport.

The hero of this story is also Matthew Shardlake, a sergeant lawyer working in his own chambers in Lincolns’ Inn in London in the mid fifteen hundreds. He is a semi invalid with a bent back which does cause him pain if he has to stand for too long.

This story is set at the end of Henry’s reign when he is a poor old thing, grossly fat with legs full of blisters and hardly able to walk. Not at all like the Henry we see in Wolf Hall on the TV which of course is set much earlier in his reign. By the time of this story Thomas Cromwell has been beheaded.

Shardlake has worked for Queen Catherine Parr before and here he is called upon again by the Queen, this time to find a book that has been stolen from her bedchamber where it was locked away in a wooden chest. She wrote this book herself and it has never been published, because she was afraid of being branded a heretic. There was at this time a searching out of all heretics in

the city, when if convicted, they were burnt at the stake. The book which is still in manuscript form was called Lamentations of a Sinner.

She has not told Henry that this book has gone missing, fearing he would fly into a temper, so asks Shardlake to carry out secret investigations to try and find it for her. They concoct a story that a valuable jewel has been stolen to hide the real reason for the search.

And so the whole story is involved with the search for the book and the many scrapes that Shardlake and his assistants get into while searching for it.

We learn a lot about what it was like to live in that period in London and the devious way politics worked in the Royal Court, which is all very interesting and good maps are provided inside the covers of the book, which is over 600 pages long.

I enjoyed the book, although I felt it could have been a bit shorter as some of the investigations tend to be a bit wearisome.

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