Andrea Bowhill's Reviews > Dissolution

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom
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Oct 27, 09

Read in June, 2008

C.J Sansom has woven a fantastic dark historical mystery from his title word Dissolution "dissolved". It's 1537, Henry VIII has control of the Church of England, institution of monastic life with it's rich beautiful interiors and libraries filled with illuminated manuscripts are about to be destroyed. Thomas Cromwell King's chief minister has found more way's to fill the King's swelling treasury, boosting his own pockets in the process. Selling physical property for bargain basement prices to either wealthy gentry who greedily want to increase their own estates or middle classes who were given a chance to become land gentry, selling lands and taxing therefore solving any problems of imposing unpopular taxes later on.

Cromwell renowned for his shrewdness user of all methods and means in greed, sent forth a team of commissioners into the depths of England to confiscate and dissolve smaller and less powerful houses at first, making them unsuitable to be lived in by doing this he avoided much outcry from the people. With his ears always close to the ground Cromwell was shocked to learn through his network of informers that one of his most trusted negotiating commissioners, lawyer Robin Singleton has turned up dead.

Crookback London lawyer Matthew Shardlake is summoned, a protégé of Thomas Cromwell and a long time supporter of reform also trusted with keeping delicate matters quiet. Shardlake is commissioned by Cromwell to investigate Singleton's death at Scarnsea monastery on the Sussex Coast along with all it's dark happenings. Upon arrival he is far from welcomed but that is only expected. On closer inspection the monastery holds more than just religious and political chaos. Events begin to Spiral out of control, corruption rife and dark truth forces Shardlake to question everything he believes facing his own fears, passions and doubts.

This is a well crafted Tudor mystery, although it's similar to Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, with its dark monastery mystery storyline, Sansom's book for me reaches further in History. It's showing a changing shift in English history after centuries in the old way of life. The 1530's descriptions pour out from this book, sights, sounds and smells the constant danger and fears, brutality of life in the Tudor period. Throwing at you the political and the religious workings in uncertain times and the deviousness of how powerful Thomas Cromwell had become. Sansom has also written an in depth character London lawyer Matthew Shardlake full of honesty and humility his disabled hero lives in Chancery Lane but uses Lincoln's Inn to Socialize for work purposes about 300 yards from Chancery, situated in Holborn, this is a great touch on History added. Wonderful start to a series, I think we can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed this book being a lover of English History.

Andrea Bowhill
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