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Library - dukedom

Dissolution - C.J. Sansom

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It's frustrating when you're reading a good book that really you haven't got time to read. The first week of May was busy, consequently it's taken me ten days to read Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. Too long, a good whodunnit should be read much quicker than that - by me anyway because my addled brain is inclined to forget important details. Never mind, I got there in the end and it was well worth the trip.

Anyway, this one was recommended to me by rosie55. I'm not the biggest crime reader in the world but I do enjoy the odd historical whodunnit and used to read a lot of Cadfael. This series is more complicated and all the better for it, much as I used to like Ellis Peters' books. The setting is England in the 1530s. Henry VIII is on the throne and he's dissolving the monastries. Matthew Shardlake, reformist, lawyer, hunchback, and all round crabby individual, is sent by Thomas Cromwell to investigate the murder of one his commissioners at the monastry at Scarnsea on the south coast. It's mid-winter and his welcome is much like the weather - freezing cold. The monastry is full of all kinds of odd-bod monks and Shardlake is hard-put to find out what's causing the atmosphere of intense menace and who the murderer is.

Shardlake is an excellent detective... I liked his crabbiness; the fact that he is flawed both mentally and physically made his character very real to me even though at times I questioned his decisions and motives. But that's how people are, so I'm quite happy with that. The historical detail included is very much part of the attraction for me too... I lapped up the background but it was never intrusive, always 'just right'. An excellent, excellent read. I've already bought the second one. What have you started rosie55???

Comments

Ooh, that sounds good. ::puts it on the list::
I hope you won't need to take out a second mortgage to afford the list! ;-)
I hope you know that.

Heh. I'm worried. Our tastes are too similar for me not to be. 8-]
Matthew Shardlake, lawyer, hunchback, and all round crabby individual,
Why are all good main characters crabby?

Now, I want to read this. Have you ever read a book, it's a mystery series actually, set in like the Middle Ages? The guy is a bard or something and he has a kid. I can't remember the title, author, or anything but that.
Why are all good main characters crabby?

A very good question. Perhaps crabby is more interesting to write than nice? :-)

The description of the other book rings no bells with me but I'd be interested to know what it is if you ever remember.

Perhaps crabby is more interesting to write than nice? :-)
Probably. Would House or Gibbs be as interesting if they were nice all the time? No.

The description of the other book rings no bells with me but I'd be interested to know what it is if you ever remember.
I am going to look it up on Amazon right now. I'll let you know if I find it.
I have found it! It's called the Roger the Chapman Series by Kate Sedley. He's a peddler not a bard. I've read the 8th book and I really want to read the rest.
It's really weird but I've never heard of this author yet she's almost local to where I live. The books look good enough that I shall investigate further - library, local bookshop etc. because I'm intrigued.
It's hard to find some of her books over here, I hope you have better luck. I remember that the book was good and easy to get through. I think you'll like it.

It's really weird but I've never heard of this author yet she's almost local to where I live.
That is weird. She must not be super famous. But, she is a good writer.
Ho! Big grin on my face!
I knew you were hoping to read this in May and I've been wondering whether you would like it as much as I did. And worrying a bit because I know you're normally a fast reader and you hadn't said anything by the 10th.... Phew! Thank goodness for that - would have hated for you to buy it and then find you didn't like it!
I agree with all your comments, I found the book very absorbing, Shardlake very human and as you say, very believably crabby, the historical background convincing in unexpected little details - smells, costumes, passing references to things and events - a very thorough knowledge without any sense of it being imparted in a patronising way.
And, like you, I am now working through Dark Fire and not having enough time for it, tonight being my third evening of the week with a meeting!
So glad you enjoyed!
I did enjoy it a lot. I didn't guess whodunnit either... my original guess being way off the mark. ;-)

I really, really liked the historical detail - you really got a feel for what life must have been like back then. I was unaware of how frightening the times were too. And those poor parrots! Thomas Cromwell's personality surprised me and it's not hard to imagine him being like that. The relationship between Mark and Shardlake made me rather sad at the end but conversely I really liked how Brother Guy and Shardlake were together and hope to see him back in a future book. So much packed into the book and none of it superfluous.

I'm now reading something completely different but will get back to Master Shardlake fairly soon I suspect. Waterstones have the third one 3 for 2 at the moment too and I'm very tempted...

I didn't guess whodunnit either...
No. I didn't either!
I really, really liked the historical detail - you really got a feel for what life must have been like back then.
That's exactly what appealed to me - smells, sounds, all sorts of authentic sounding detail!
I was unaware of how frightening the times were
I'd not really given this much thought before, but it makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Imagine how it must have felt to both monks and ordinary folk to have these apparent bulwarks of society just commandeered and razed to the ground - you must have wondered what could happen next, mustn't you? If that could happen to the monks, who was safe?
And those poor parrots! I thought this was one of the bits which made me realise the extent to which the author had placed his mind back in those days - a sort of writer's exercise - "describe a parrot for someone who has never seen one" - we, the readers, knew what the parrot was, but it was fascinating to see a take from people who didn't know what they were, and how a lot of the folk there believed the bird could actually talk - our Matthew worked it out pretty quickly, though! Another of those little asides which brought the period to life for me.
So much packed into the book and none of it superfluous. Sums it up nicely!
I'm now reading something completely different
Me, too. I have started Dark Fire but I find I need to take a breather because it's another of those intense books which you can't skip read. I'm reading The other side of me, and dipping occasionally into Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet, which you reminded of recently, plus a Pros zine or two for light relief! But then, I do like to have several books on the go which drives M mad because he likes to have one at a time on his bedside chest, not a teetering pile like mine!
I need to read this--the cover captivated me!

How much do you think cover art affects the popularity of books? Just curious--and enjoying doing nothing I have to do for the entire weekend. Ah, bliss.
Hope you're having a really restful weekend. :-)

I really think you would enjoy this one. I don't know why, but I feel you would.

I'm not sure if cover art influences book sales exactly because if a book gets known as being good people will buy it regardless, imo. But certainly if I'm browsing and I see an unknown book that has a beautiful cover I'm far more likely to pick it up and look at it than if it hasn't. And speaking purely personally, cover art is important to me... I really love beautiful artwork on book covers. What about you?
Artwork draws me in--of course, the words have to be good, but a picture that captures the essence of a book is very special to me.

I'll have to get a hold of this one.

Enjoyed the first two, just started Sovereign.

Thanks so much for this rec!

Have you read any of Patricia Finney's Elizabethan series? My favourite is Unicorn's Blood.
The credit for the rec should go to rosie55 but I'm quite happy to take it instead. ;-)

No, I haven't read anything by Patricia Finney but will add her to my notebook of authors to look for. Elizabethan sounds good to me...