- Publisher: Pan Books
- Format: Paperback | 480 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 32mm | 320g
- Publication date: 18 May 2007
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0330450794
- ISBN 13: 9780330450799
- Edition statement: Tenth anniversary ed
- Illustrations note: maps
- Sales rank: 1,777
Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege - a black cockerel sacrificed on the alter, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake's investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes ...
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C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.
By Mr Ian Scott 10 Mar 2012
All five of the books in this Tudor murder mystery cycle are a damned good read. Oh, and for something completely differernt but equally rivetting don't forget Winter in Madrid!
By Penny Cunningham 26 Jan 2011
Oh I just loved this book, the first of C J Sansom's that I have read and I can't wait to get to the next one!
It was full on intrigue, historical fact and packed full of murder and mystery.
If you enjoy Tudor history I would imagine this will be right up your street!
By Esther Cohen 06 May 2010
This book is wonderful. It is set against the historical backdrop of a country in turmoil, when the monastories where being dissolved and your religious beliefs literally meant life or death. It focuses on a lawyer, a hunchback named Matthew Shardlake who investigates a thrilling string of crimes and murders against this backdrop of Henry VIII's England. The writing is so rich, it transports you back to these sometimes horrific times, but never lets the thread of a good crime thriller drop from your sight. I can't recommend this writer enough, be warned, you will be hooked and become a devoted follower of CJ Sansom and huge fan of the warm and likeable Matthew Shardlake. Really riveting stuff.
The sights, the voices, the very smell of this turbulent age seem to rise from the page. With his remarkable debut, C. J. Sansom can lay claim to a place among the most distinguished of modern historical novelists. (P. D. James) Sansom seems to have been born with, or instinctively acquired, that precious balance of creativity and research that lets a mystery set in another time walk a delicate line between history and humanity. ("Chicago Tribune") With this cunningly plotted and darkly atmospheric effort, Sansom proves himself to be a promising newcomer. ("Publishers Weekly") This is a humdinger of a whodunnit. Read it! (Colin Dexter)