This is the sixth in Sansom’s Tudor detective series and neither his eye for historical detail, his knack for plot nor his empathy for his lawyer detective, the hunchback Matthew Shardlake, have diminished.
King Henry VIII is now an obese and wobbly man, barely able to walk two steps by himself, but his rule of terror remains. He is married to his sixth (and last) wife Catherine Parr, but even she isn’t free of the terror. She’s got herself into a pickle – quite innocently – of which the consequence could be burning at the stake. She needs her old friend Shardlake to help.
The plotting and grasping, the subterfuge and power struggles, the abject poverty and filth, the shocking wealth and wastages at court, the general ignorance (sound familiar, South Africa?) all remain, for me, the most fascinating aspect of the Shardlake series.
- This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2014.