So, late last night I finished reading a book that I had been entranced by, Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. This is the first in an historical English mystery series featuring attorney Matthew Shardlake, who is an appointed commissioner (read: investigator) on behalf of Lord Thomas Cromwell. I had gotten wind of these books when I read a review for the fifth book in the series, Heartstone, and thought to myself “damn, I need to read this book!” Alas, when I learned it was part of a series I realized that I must go back and start at the beginning (that’s just how I am).
Dissolution follows Commissioner Shardlake in 1537 to the Scarnsea Monastery in the south of England, where there has been murder and many other ill-gotten things going on, much to the chagrin of Lord Cromwell, who led the reformation. Initially, Shardlake is there to investigate the brutal murder of the previous Commissioner appointed by Cromwell to investigate the Abbey. However, as the story progresses, additional murders and intrigue turn up that lead us even deeper into a mystery that has ties back to Anne Boleyn and the false charges levied against her by Cromwell. I cannot say much more on the storyline, as I do not want to give anything away that could impact your enjoyment of this lovely story.
Ultimately, not only was the excellent mystery part of why I liked this book so much, but also the writing style. Although the book takes place in the mid-1500’s, it was a breeze to read and fascinating. The storylines and characters were so tightly written and everything occurred for a reason. I also enjoyed that I did NOT see who was coming as the killer. I was pretty blown away at how well Sansom did the reveal and the wrap-up. I will definitely be reading the remainder of this series, and if you’re looking for a good historical mystery, I highly suggest you check this out!