C.J. Sansom’s 2104 novel Lamentation brings to a close the his six book series of Henry  VIII. Sansom brings the series to a close in great fashion filled with suspense, double-dealing and all of the intrigue surrounding the King’s court.


Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, is the centerpiece of  this novel set in the divide between conservative and radical factions  at odds over England’s religious future.  Catherine pens a secret paper, clearly outlining her leanings and of course it disappears and the Shardlake search for the potentially deadly manuscript begins.  Catherine’s very survival is at the center of the story which begins with the burning at the stake of heretic Anne Askew and two others. Familiar territory for Henry VIII.

Lamentation  qualifies as a good read from every dimension. It appears to bring the Shardlake series to a close but I will leave those details to be discovered by the reader. If you have not read  the Shardlake Sansom novels I commend the entire series to you. If you are committed, start from the beginning and read them in  chronological order.   Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation.  The characters  and story line build through each book.  It may seem like a project but I suggest it will be well worth your while. Sansom is a celebrated historical novelist and you will become an enthusiastic student of Tudor England when you embark on the Shardlake journey.

Reviews of the other Sansom Shardlake novels may be searched here at


C.J. Sansom’s Winter in Madrid is a wonderful departure from his excellent Shardlake Series.  Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation,and Heart-stone are all  Sansom novels set in sixteenth century England. ( See my overviews of the aforementioned here at


Winter in Madrid is a novel set in 1940, just after the Spanish Civil War. It is a story of love, friendship and high adventure surrounding the rescue of a young veteran who left England after the evacuation of Dunkirk to join in the fight against the Fascists in Spain. English prep school friends find themselves together on Spanish soil some seeking their fortune, others justice and lost love.

Sansom delivers a bonus history of post Civil War Spain enveloped in an intriguing story that moves with a fine pace and bountiful energy. His writing is never flowery but captures the moment perfectly with a judicious vocabulary.  One exception is ” coffee.”  You will see what I mean as you devour this good read.

Samson’s latest in the Shardlake Series is Lamentation, which is next on my Sansom list. I will post upon completion.







In her new book, The Kings Curse, Philippa Gregory adds multiple chapters to the madness of the Tudor Court of King Henry VIII.  If you enjoyed her best-selling novel The Other Boleyn  Girl, you will be very much at home with The Kings Curse. The story comes through the voice of a new narrator, Margaret Pole of the Yorks, part of the Plantagenets, and considered a rival to the Tudor Throne.


All of the great characters of the period are interwoven throughout the book.  The demise of Katherine of Aragon, the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn, Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey and of course Henry VIII himself. Throughout the novel the crafty and devious Margaret Pole masks her disdain for the Tudors in an effort of save the lives of her sons and Henry and Katherine’s only living child,  Mary, the legitimate heir.  It is indeed the King’s curse, that he has no  legitimate son to continue the Tudor Dynasty.

Gregory’s research and attention to detail is impeccable and her literary style is fast paced. There is never a long wait at the starting line.

Other novels of this era you may enjoy are Katherine by Anya Seton and the entire C.J. Sansom series set during this period.  You can search these titles and The Other Boleyn Girl here at



Heartstone, the latest in the C.J. Sansom Shardlake, Tudor England mysteries carries forward the authors great images and twists and turns of the reign of Henry VIII and the characters developed that  are always tangential to the Throne, the Queen and the Court. 

Heartstone is no exception and those of you who were introduced to this series by my earlier blog  ( April 2, 2011) will not be disappointed. Sovereign, and Revelation are  also excellent reads but my choice from among the series remains Dissolution. 

From a historical point of view, Heartstone is set against a background of Henry  VIII embarking on yet another war with France. Yes, there is the usual Sansom twist in the plot that I doubt you will guess until the very end.

C.J. Sansom-Masterpeice Mysteries-Historically Impeccable

C.J. Sansom, the fabulous British writer of the Shardlake Mysteries, is out with a new book, Heartstone which my bookseller placed in my hands just yesterday.  It reminded me to share with you my experience with this wonderful  series.


I have read and enjoyed  three of the Matthew Shardlake Mysteries. The first in the series is Dissolution, published in 2003.  Shardlake is a retired attorney turned investigator charged with solving  the murder of one of Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners during King Henry VIII’s  closing of all of the monasteries in England.  Sansom’s attention to historical detail is so excellent that the book could qualify as a historical novel! You will also meet  Shardlake’s able assistant Jack Barak.  What a team indeed! The characters Sansom developes and the localities he describes place you firmly in Sixteenth Century Tudor England. Sansom kindly publishes for the reader maps of the setting of the plot!

Move on to the  second Shardlake Mystery, Sovereign published in 2006.  Shardlake and Jack Barak are called upon to solve yet another murder this time within King Henry VIII’s  Court. They undercover a plot against the King Himself!  You will meet the fifth wife of Henry the VIII, Catherine Howard, and be plunged into a question of the legitimacy of succession to the English Throne! It only gets better and better.

Want more?  In Revelation,  published in 2008,  King Henry VIII is wooing his sixth wife Catherine Parr.  Archbishop Cramer is suspicious that Lady Catherine has reformist sympathies. She is also resisting the King’s affection ! Sansom’s physical descriptions of the King leave little wonder as to why it is a hard choice for Catherine. Add to the plot a young boy who because of his religious zealotry has been placed in the Bedlam hospital for the insane.  If he is released he will be burned at the stake as a heretic!  Enter Shardlake and Barak who while investing the murder of a personal friend discover a direct connection to the imprisoned boy!  One more Sansom mystery that will lead you page by page into the late evening, enjoying every minute.

There is a fourth in this series titled Dark Fire  ( 2004)but I am now so consumed with the opening pages of Heartstone that Dark Fire will have to wait. Sansom authored another novel, Winter in Madrid  (2006) set during the Spanish Civil War.  Some reviewers have called it a Hemingway without the romance! I have not read that work .

I commend C.J. Sansom to lovers of extremely well written mysteries and don’t discount the value of his accurate historical perspective. A painless way to discover the world of Sixteenth Century Tudor England and the life and wives of Henry VIII>