Book 1, in the Matthew Shardlake series
Set in the 16th century during the dissolution of the monasteries. This first story features lawyer Matthew Shardlake and follows him in his attempts to solve the murder of one of Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners in the monastery at Scarnsea on the south coast of England. The period is shortly after the beheading of Anne Boleyn and during the religious revolution. “Dissolution” is elegantly written and is a riveting portrayal of Tudor England.
At first this novel seems to be your classic whodunit, a fairly standard murder-mystery genre which includes bizarre and grisly murder, some red herrings, a few twists and a lot of suspense, of course a little bit of romance to boot. But reading along you fast discover that the vivid backdrop of Cromwell’s war against the monasteries, all the tension between the Papists and the Reformers that brew throughout the pages, the remorseless portrait of a violent and the terrifying business of encountering the king and authorities are so brilliantly done to place this novel in a league of its own. The narrative style is competently handled by the well-rounded Shardlake in a straightforward prose using words as true to the era as possible. A sub plots has a subtle love triangle nicely done and others are weaves effortlessly into the main plot to tease us till the gasping ending.
This is one atmospheric novel I enjoyed quite a bit and looking forward to “Dark Fire” its sequel.