Published in Issue 24 of Visionary Tongue, Spring 2008.

Last issue I reviewed the second book in this trilogy by Sansom (Dark Fire) which concludes with this novel set in a darkly realised Tudor England of the 1540’s. Set several months after the rebellion of the north against Henry VIII’s decision to break with Rome it deals with a often sidelined period of our turbulent history when Henry set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to extract submission by his rebellious subjects.

Sansom pulls of the difficult trick of keeping the reader guessing throughout its six hundred odd pages of the historical detective novel that is matchless in its research and sheer feel of this troubled times.

The central character of the Lawyer Matthew Shardlake returns once more with his assistant Barak, both of whom are complex, beautifully constructed creations of the author which add weight to the storyline and for whom you really start to care about as they try to navigate the shifting and traitorous political sands of Henry’s court. A cracking read, set in a very believable storyline.

Pan Books ISBN 978-0-330-43608

Review by Jamie Spracklen