Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the year 1537, King Henry VIII and his vicar general, Thomas Cromwell, are busily going about the country gaining the land and riches formerly owned by monasteries. The inhabitants of the monasteries, not surprisingly, are none too thrilled with this turn of events. That is the setting for the creepy mystery Dissolution by C.J. Sansom.

Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer who also happens to be a hunchback, is employed by Cromwell to travel to the monastery at Scarnsea to investigate a murder. Cromwell had previously sent an envoy there to investigate the monastery's finances, and that man had been murdered. Shardlake and his assistant, Mark Poer, arrive to investigate but discover that there are other dark deeds and dead bodies to contend with at the monastery.

The story is a bit confusing, with all the monks being "brother" somebody. One of the monks stutters, which helps to identify him, but there are a confusing number of them to keep straight otherwise. I listened to the audio book version, so it was sometimes difficult to remember which "brother" was speaking. The historical facts are also fascinating, and the setting, an 11th century dank and creepy monastery, adds a great deal of atmosphere to the story.

This is the first Matthew Shardlake story in what so far has been a four book series. I also read on Bookbrowse that Kenneth Branagh has been tapped to play Shardlake in the BBC version of Dissolution. So expect to hear more from the Tudor lawyer!

An aside: Speaking of Kenneth Branagh, who played Kurt Wallander in the series Wallander, author Henning Mankell has announced that he has written the final Wallander book. It will be published in Sweden in August, with the English translation surely soon to follow. I know that he said that The Pyramid would be the last novel with Kurt Wallander as the main character, but he really means it this time!

Final Verdict for Dissolution: Three Gherkins, for being an interesting historical mystery

9 comments:

Smitten by Britain said...

Anything with Branagh in it, I'm there. ;)

Liz Loomis said...

I just LOVE your blog. Thanks for the great read. LL

Smitten by Britain said...

Lisa, when you get a chance pop over to my blog and pick up your award.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

You don't sound too enthusiastic about this one, but Prodigal Wife loves historical mysteries, so will pass this on to her. (She loved the Sharon Kay Penman mystery series, did you read those?) And congratulations on your award!

Lisanne624 said...

Yes, it will be interesting to see what Branagh can do with it!

Lisanne624 said...

Thanks for the compliment, Liz! I really love reading your blog, too!

Lisanne624 said...

Thanks for the award, Melissa!

Lisanne624 said...

Hey Prodigal Tourist, thanks for the recommendation about Sharon Kay Penman. I'll be sure to check them out! I'm on the second Shardlake mystery right now, and they seem to be very popular, so I hope your wife will enjoy them! Thanks for the congrats!

cjb said...

My hope is that BBC will do the entire Matthew Shardlake series (4 books to date). Dissolution is good, but each book gets better. Dark Fire is great, and Revelation is amazing. Sansome manages to combine two of my favorite genres - historical novel and mystery - very well.

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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