Updated: Oct 8, 2020
by C.J. Sansom
This was a really engrossing, meaty affair for Shardlake. It was interesting because I have only read the first one in the Shardlake series and he has developed significantly since that book. Believably so, he is a more rounded, human character.
The main plot was quite complex at times, the depth of research is outstanding and I love the whole historical London angle, it's not just there to set the scene but utterly integral and as a London history buff who knows the City well, having worked there for some time, I relish all the historical detail. I also found this story veered into horror - it was pretty gory in parts and Sansom nicely builds the suspense. The murderer was a surprise to me but not before we found out and was plausible enough. That character is drawn incredibly well, you really do feel the sense of creeping evil.
I did it was a little overlong in places, a bit too much scene setting in some chapters. Also, there are two other side narrative strands, neither of which I thought added much although I believe one is developed more in the next book. The other sub-plot involving his old friend, Guy Malton, I thought was unnecessary and out of character for both Shardlake and Malton. But, on the whole, a cracking read.