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Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake 5)

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The calculating Thomas Cromwell, who was always trying to stay in his majesty’s favor and do his bidding until the bitter end. Too much description of costume, of weaponry, and mind-numbing detail of Portsmouth in preparation for battle, and of the Mary Rose itself.

Of all the books in the series, the outstanding Dissolution was the one that hooked me, and Revelation the one that still haunts me. He was born in 1952 and was educated at the University of Birmingham, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. As always the depiction of Tudor England is well done, especially this time with the insight on English sailors and soldiers of the period. Sunday Times Culture Fans will need no introduction to Matthew Shardlake, the lawyer embroiled in dark secrets during the reign of Henry VIII.By now he is married to Catherine Parr and he is not a well man although he is still pursuing his unfortunate desire to war against the French. Her time under lock and key is reaching two decades, though she espouses innocence for the charges levied against her. Following the suicide of her only son, Mistress Bess Calfhill seeks assistance from her former employer, Queen Catherine Parr, to uncover a possible injustice to the Curteys children, her son's pupils. Those around him suggest that he let her be, as she is happy there, working with other inmates, and determined never to leave despite being free to.

But what the novel provides in terms of reach and achievement is streets ahead of most of his contemporaries. Shardlake’s job is to look into wrongs which have been done to the young ward Hugh Curteys by a Hampshire landowner, and (as is customary with most cases involving Shardlake) violent death is soon on the agenda, as the threat of war lours. They are at least reading copies, complete and in reasonable condition, but usually secondhand; frequently they are superior examples.Seemingly unrelated, both cases take Shardlake and his loyal retainer, Jack Barak, to the south in the Portsmouth district. One of the first things that I will say about “Heartstone” is that, although it is fairly slow to start, it is one of the most gripping Shardlake novels that I’ve read. It is one of those series that you have to read from start to finish, even though each adventure is a treat by themselves. Seriously, I don’t think that I’ve ever read a novel set around here before – and it was such a cool experience. That town is abuzz with threats of invasion by the French, and the military build-up has begun, with the conscription of men and the gathering of equipment and supplies.

The Queen asks for an investigation into a wardship, suspecting foul play from the family acting as guardians of orphaned children. The reader will likely enjoy many of the plot and character advancements found within this piece and I applaud Sansom’s subtle attention to both.They make you question the way you look at the past and wonder why no one had ever written a series like it before. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. But now, after four books, it was annoying me to see that he had learned absolutely nothing: give him a good sob story, get him to feel sorry for you, and the man is blind to everything, only to be shocked and hurt when (once again) he ends up being taken advantage of and almost killed.

However, things do not go well when Henry VIII’s invasion of France is an epic failure and the French decide to retaliate by sending a mighty fleet to invade England. For prequels, I was thinking that Sansom could either follow the adventures of Jack Barak working for Cromwell or Guy Malton as he learns how to be Moorish and a monk.We're always happy to answer any questions or queries you might have, please get in touch using one of the methods below. Another thing that I will say about this novel is that, being from Hampshire myself, it was absolutely amazing to see so many familiar place names in this book ( eg: Portsmouth, Portsdown Hill, Petersfield, Gosport, Horndean, Cosham, Portchester, Southsea Castle etc. Seriously, despite the slow-paced beginning, this is as much of a thriller novel as it is a detective novel. I feel like Matthew, Barak and Guy are old friends now and I can't wait to see what they are up to next. I had first met Ellen Fettiplace two years before … I had been astonished when I learned the nature of her malady – she was utterly terrified of going outside the walls of the building.

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