Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fountains of blood and more!

Life in the time of King Henry VIII is as unstable as always, but lawyer Matthew Shardlake is jarred out of his comfortable routine working at the Inns of Court by the murder of his friend Roger Elliard. It turns out to be only one in a series of murders committed in the latest Shardlake mystery Revelation by C.J. Sansom. Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak are further disturbed when they discover that the killer is apparently enacting punishments from the Book of Revelation for his victims. They discover what is happening, how many murders are left, and the probable fate that awaits the victims, but they don't know who the killer is or where he will strike next. Because one of the early victims of the killer had a connection to Lady Catherine Parr, the latest woman to catch King Henry's eye, powerful men induce Shardlake to investigate the killings, but to keep the matter private.

At the same time, Shardlake has been asked to represent a teen aged boy who is being held in Bedlam with religious mania. While trying to track down a deranged killer, Shardlake must make frequent trips to the asylum to monitor the condition and progress of his charge.

The events in Revelation take place around 18 months after the last book in the series, Sovereign, ended and our old friends from the earlier books again play a large part in the story. Barak and Tamasin are now married but are becoming increasingly estranged after a personal tragedy. Guy, now practicing as a doctor, also has some unpleasant experiences with a young apprentice.

I enjoyed this return to the Tudor days of England. As always, there were plenty of details about life at that time, which helped to bring the story to life. There were also many threads which were left dangling for possible future adventures for Shardlake and Barak, so I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment! So far, my favorite book in the series has been Dark Fire, where the two heroes were constantly in perilous situations. The other books have been exciting also, but not as suspenseful.

Final Verdict for Revelation: Four Gherkins, for being an evocative look at a fascinating time in history

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