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Dissolution (The Shardlake series, 1)

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Scarnsea is sanctuary but the monastery in the Sussex of Tudor England is seething with darkness and an oppressing atmosphere linked to death, taxes and treachery.

So Shardlake and his talented, loyal off-sider Mark, a handsome young ladies’ man, set off in the wet, blustery cold of an English winter to replace the murdered commissioner. Already weary in soul and feeling the physical toil of the past few years the last thing Shardlake wants to do is to be dispatched to the St. This was a time of uneasy alliances with Catholics swearing allegiance to the new church not because they necessary believed, but because they wished to keep their property and to keep their heads attached to the rest of their bodies.There is some historic religious connection to past centuries, and influence from the Protestant Reformation, but I’d rather get back to the mystery! The action is set in the time of (in)famous king Henry VIII and it has as main character a hunchback lawyer under the service of the equally famous and controversial figure, Thomas Cromwell. The burning question is whether or not Matthew Shardlake can accomplish his mission before both he and Mark become victims themselves of the evil that seems to infuse Scarnsea. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. I think most major characters are either parts of oneself or parts of people that have made an impact on you, for good or ill.

This was a well written and very enjoyable entry in the series, though I probably think I would have enjoyed it far more had I read it before the later ones. Side note; reading this during the pandemic of 2020 I had to snap my head back a little when I read this line about the plague-“The whole world was stricken then, as it fell a further step towards its close. Shardlake is sent to Scarnsea to investigate the murder of his fellow commissioner and discovers a much more tangled web than he expected. I would love to go back to it someday, as the setting in particular fascinated me, but I couldn’t connect with the writing style. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice.

His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege - a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic. Cromwell has carried out a thorough survey of all monasteries and religious houses, and is waiting for an opportunity to dissolve them. The Dissolution with the Catholic Church changed the face of England forever along with its sequential history.

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