This is another big book in the series about lawyer Matthew Shardlake detectiving his way around in the 1500’s.  As usual, it’s stuffed with interesting historical snippets, not least the fact that the story culminates on the Mary Rose on 19th July 1545.  If you don’t know what that means, look it up.
  I’d better say up front that I enjoyed the book.  The characters feel real, and the lifestyle and environment described by Sansom feel real.  Further, the book draws together two mysteries, and I confess I didn’t know what was going on with either of them, which is relatively unusual because as a long time reader of detective stories, I can usually figure out what is happening.  So it was good.  But...
  There’s always a But, isn’t there?
  Three things about the book slightly spoiled it for me.  One is that all the characters speak perfect English, regardless of whether they’re the Queen, a lawyer, or a commoner from a tiny village.  I realise it would be impossible (and undesirable) to try to render speech as it was spoken in those days – but surely some effort could be taken to ensure that characters speak with different voices?  Two,  Shardlake rides to a particular village two or three times, and to Portsmouth two or three times.  He’s constantly going somewhere and then coming back again, and that started to get a bit tiresome.  I also noticed that whenever he arrived in these places, he more or less immediately found exactly who or what he was looking for.  Convenient.  And thirdly, and especially at the start of the book, quite a bit of conversation was clear info-dumping. Again, I realise that some of this is necessary, to get us up to speed with certain aspects of the sixteenth century.  But couldn’t it have been done a little less obviously?
  Maybe I’m being niggardly. As I say, I enjoyed the book, as I’ve enjoyed all the Shardlake novels I’ve read so far.  Despite my three caveats, I recommend it.
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