Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake, #2)
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Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake #2)

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  8,304 ratings  ·  591 reviews
It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister –...more
Kindle Edition, 608 pages
Published by Pan Books (first published April 2nd 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lance Greenfield
Continual suspense


Matthew Shardlake has put the nerve-wracking episode of his investigations at Scarnsea Monastery behind him and is living the relatively quiet life of a London lawyer of the Tudor era. Suddenly, his peace is shattered. He is asked to defend a young lady who is accused of murdering her cousin, but refuses to speak to anyone, even Shardlake. A difficult task, and even more stressful because failing to plea when brought to court in those days resulted in a slow and agonising death...more
Jamie
I enjoyed reading this, and I'll continue with the series. Sansom is a good writer and his characterization is excellent. I like Shardlake and his new sidekick Barak very much. The setting felt authentic and the author manages to include a lot of historical details without disrupting the narrative. But despite these excellent qualities I'm knocking it down to 3 stars because of a few serious flaws.

Both of the mysteries in this book are weak. The first involves a girl accused of murder, and the r...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. Solid sequel to the excellent Dissolution by C. J. Sansom. Not as enjoyable as the first book which is probably because having visited the world of Matthew Shardlake before, it wasn't quite as fresh or new as it was before. In addition, the mysteries involved in this installment were less compelling. That said, it was still a very good read and I will certainly be reading the next book in the series. Recommend.
Paul
Pretty reasonable Tudor detective thriller; better than the first in the series in my opinion. Sansom is a historian and lawyer who has obviously combined his two passions. This one is set in the summer of 1540 at the time of the fall of Cromwell.
Shardlake, the hero/detective is an honest lawyer (there's an oxymoron if ever there was one!)and is a likeable character. There is none of the mean moodiness and complex personal life here; Shardlake is a 40 year old hunchback who is unmarried. He doe...more
Samantha
I loved this sequel even more than the first book in the series! The author's credentials as a lawyer with a PhD in history are evident in the complex, finely written story that he creates around Tudor era lawyer, Matthew Shardlake.

There is really no part of this book that I can disparage. The characters are multifaceted and realistic. I adore Matthew - he is clever and righteous but also insecure and modest. In this novel he is paired up perfectly with Jack Barak, who is young, courageous, and...more
Angela
Dark Fire, the second in the historical mystery series which has the hunchback lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, as the central character, is a triumph for its excellent author,C.J. Sansom .

This Tudor mystery is set in London in 1540. It is a time of change, when the great monastic establishments are being disbanded by order of Henry 8th and land is changing hands rapidly. Henry is married for the fourth time, his latest wife being Anne of Cleves, but he is completely dissatisfied with her. He lays th...more
Marnie
C.J. Sansom is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and Matthew Shardlake one of my favorite characters. Lawyer Shardlake would prefer a quiet life but somehow he keeps finding himself in the midst of political intrigue. Thomas Cromwell, once again, forces my favorite hunchback to investigate a mythical weapon known as Greek Fire. I thought this sounded far fetched until I did an internet search and discovered that Greek Fire/ Dark Fire is thought to have existed.Sansom always doses his b...more
Nikki
If you want the conclusions of this book to be a surprise, you'd be best not knowing anything about British history. Several things are obvious from the start if you are. For that reason, in one way it's not as strong as Dissolution; on the other hand, weaving the plot into the political climate does make for interesting reading. I am finding these books kind of addictive: they have their flaws, but Matthew is a character you can root for -- and so was Barak, as the story went on. There are some...more
Sam Piper
I wasn't that enamoured of this, second Shardlake book. I liked the fact that Sansom took us in a very different direction and allowed us to see Shardlake at home in London rather than in the confined claustrophobic abbey of Scarnsea. Unfortunately I didn't find his London convincing. Perhaps I have been spoiled by Dickens and Sarah Waters so that I was expecting to see, feel and experience the filth and squalor of Tudor England and, in fairness to Sansom, he mentions it... But I didn't feel he...more
Helen
A wonderful, wonderful, wonderful historical fiction/mystery. Not quite as good as the first book in the series, Dissolution, only because this book is considerably longer and had a few subplots that were not quite a interesting. The main mystery was awesome and I loved the discussion of greek fire. I am very glad I found this series.
Ali
This is the second installment to the very successful Shardlake series. I know the paperback version runs to over 500 pages, and yet it is a fairly quick read. The Tudor period is brilliantly re-created with all it's sounds sights and smells. They were bloody and treacherous times, and the plot twists come thick and fast. Mathew Shardlake may appear at times like a man out of the time in which he lives, an honorable, compassionate, just man, often suffering prejudice for being a hunchback. We me...more
Caroline
This novel begins in a hot summer in 16th century London, and we are wonderfully immersed in the sensations of the city.

Against the ubiquitous heat, you get a fantastic impression of time and place. The dissolution of the monasteries....the dust and noise of buildings being pulled down, or re-deployed. Displaced monks having to re-invent themselves in other jobs and lifestyles. You also get a great sense of the fervid political shenanigans of the time, both at home and abroad, as Henry VIII shif...more
Leah
This book was ok as far as historical mysteries are concerned. It got pretty confusing and convoluted, there were more characters and suspects than necessary. And in the end, the bad guys end up being the people you dislike all along.

Still, it was fun to read about England in the 16th century. I learned all kinds of things that were pretty interesting. Like the fact that some women used nightshade (a poison!) to make their pupils wider because it was supposed to be sexy. The book takes place ab...more
Gavin
This was recommended to me by someone who knew my taste for history and mystery. It could hardly have been more perfect.

Essentially a Tudor detective novel, the main character of Shardlake is a humble lawyer who finds himself entangled in a plot which could impact upon the whole of Europe. But this summary is so facile that I am tempted to delete it because it makes the book's contents sound trite. Sansom is the kind of author which makes you weep that neither you nor those you speak to have hea...more
Bill
Sep 08, 2007 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes historical fiction
This is the second novel by C.J. Sansom, a former lawyer in the UK who also has a PhD in history. Matthew Shardlake, the lawyer protagonist, has hoped to stay away from mystery and danger, but Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's dependable enforcer, needs him to find the men who said they had discovered the secret of Greek Fire, a devastating ancient flamethrower used by the Byzantines against the Ottoman Turks and others. Cromwell's own position has become shaky because he arranged the marriage of He...more
Kavita
This is the second book of the Mathew Shardlake series. Lush writing, rich descriptions and interesting plots make this book an amazing experience of travelling to London in 1540. Cromwell needs some work done and he calls on his old aide, Mathew Shardlake and sends an assistant to help him. In return, he provides extra time to one of Shardlake’s clients, accused of murder and facing a horrible death. The unlikely duo travel around London trying to solve two problems at the same time.

The two pl...more
Karen maslen
It is 1540, and Matthew Shardlake, the lawyer renowned as "the sharpest hunchback in the courts of England," is pressed to help a friend's young niece who is charged with murder. Despite threats of torture and death by the rack, the girl is inexplicably silent. Shardlake is about to lose her case when he is suddenly granted a reprieve—one that will ensnare him in the dangerous schemes of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar-general.

In exchange for two more weeks to investigate the murder,...more
Graham
C. J. Sansom’s Tudor mystery series continues with DARK FIRE, a follow-on from DISSOLUTION and once again featuring Matthew Shardlake as Thomas Cromwell’s hunchbacked lawyer.

DARK FIRE is a step up from the quality of the first novel, a book I found pretty decent to begin with. The story breaks free of DISSOLUTION’s single, isolated setting – a remote monastery – and instead brings to life the sights and sounds of 16th century London, and is much the better for it. One of Sansom’s real strengths...more
Trisha
Back again in 16th century London with Matthew Shardlake who finds himself with two mysteries to solve in less than two weeks. No sooner had he agreed to help out a friend whose niece has been accused of murder and stubbornly refuses to say anything in her defense, than Matthew finds himself summoned to the office of the scheming and much-feared Thomas Cromwell who has fallen out of favor with Henry VIII because of his role in the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves. In an attempt to win back...more
Bruno Bouchet
The second Shardlake book is a bit like the second season of a hit TV series where the writers really hits their form. The first book, Dissolution was enjoyable, the second much more so. The action is speeded up dramatically, the plot is more complex (I didn’t workout the guilty party early this time) and the atmosphere of Tudor England incredibly rich. Shardlake is a totally engaging hero. Methodical, careful, honest and trustworthy - he’s the bane of many people who would rather he got a quick...more
Ioana
My favourite book by C.J.Sansom; this book is an underated masterpiece. Features 17th century lawyer Matthew Shardlake, helped by his colourful sidekick, Jack Barak, investigating political and social crimes in Tudor England. This book, and others by Sansom, has been criticised by critics for having a 'stuttering' style. In my opinion, there is nothing in this book that gives that impression; unless you're gonna take every single sentence apart, which is of course, a silly exploit. On the whole,...more
Emily
I again enjoyed Sansom's outing in Tudor England. His writing style really brings the era to life... Making me thankful for being alive after sewerage and sanitation are better!

I really like Shardlake as a character, he is thoughtful and intelligent, questioning what is around him. I also enjoyed the addition of Barack's character, who is so different to Shardlake, yet they work well together. I was happy to find at the end that he has become Shardlake's assistant, indicating he will be around...more
Gerald Sinstadt
Second novel syndrome is a fearful hurdle for an author; C J Sansom takes it in his stride. Dissolution, which first introduces Matthew Shardlake, was a clever and original detective story, hard though it was at times to distinguish one monk from another. Now, released from the claustrophobic Scarnsea monastery, the hunchback lawyer is called again to serve Richard Cromwell, this time in the dirty and dangerous lanes of 16th Century London and the no less treacherous English court.

Other reviewe...more
Carl Brush
I've reviewed more C.J. Samson books this year than any other author. Just got into the guy and couldn't stop. From Heartstone to Winter in Madrid to Sovereign, he kept me going. Now it's Dark Fire. Chronologically it's the first in the series of Shardlake, the humpbacked lawyer and his investigations into matters surrounding the affairs of the time and environs of Henry VIII. Winter in Madrid is a Spanish Civil War tale, and a different matter entirely. I sort of wish I'd read the Shardlake tal...more
Gill
I really enjoyed this historical 'who-dunnit' enormously. The smells, sights and sounds of Tudor London were vividly depicted and the story was fast-paced and complex with legal and political and social events tangling in a seemingly impenetrable knot, but with the occasional clues enabling the reader to guess at the eventual outcome. The central figures Matthew Shardlake the reformist hero of the trilogy (this is the second part) and the rough Barak seem unlikely bedfellows and it is only on Cr...more
Lisa
A great follow-up to the excellent Dissolution. Matthew Shardlake continues to develop strongly as a character and you can't help but admire him. He is a well-written and realistic character because although he is the hero he is not without his faults. His new assistant Jack Barak proves to be a great addition to the cast and although I found him to be utterly unlikeable at first, I was loving him by the end and I particularly liked the dynamic between himself and Shardlake. The storyline again...more
Chris Stanley
Dark Fire is an intricate plot with twists, both predictable and unpredictable. The Tudors hold great interest for me and I found myself looking for historical facts amid Sansom's storytelling.

This second Shardlake book didn't have the same impact for me as the first Dissolution, and it took until the second half of the book before it really held my interest, however, once there, I hated to put it down. I really like the character Barak, who assists Shardlake in this installment, and Shardlake...more
Terri
Another fun read from C.J. Sansom. There's something about this series that captures my imagination. The two books of the series I have read so far have been lacking in vim and vigour (hence the 4 stars not 5), but I still enjoy them immensely as the author is very talented at presenting so vividly, a 16th century London to sink into. It is a time of Henry the 8th, Cromwell and the Dissolution and it makes a colourful background to the main characters crime solving adventures.
David Campton
The second in the series of mysteries investigated by crookback lawyer Matthew Shardlake, taking place against the political and religious machinations of the latter years of Henry VIII. Characterisation, plot, historic depth all excellent. Probably a better-paced plot than dissolution, although more political than religious in tone this time, if you can make that distinction in this era.
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama:
CJ Sansom's atmospheric Tudor crime novel, set during the last days of Thomas Cromwell.
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Christopher John "C.J." Sansom is an English writer of crime novels. He was born in 1952 and was educated at the University of Birmingham, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he decided to retrain as a solicitor. He practised for a while in Sussex as a lawyer for the disadvantaged, before quitting in order to work full-time as a writer.
He came to promi...more
More about C.J. Sansom...
Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1) Revelation (Matthew Shardlake, #4) Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake, #3) Winter in Madrid Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake, #5)

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