Written by C. J. Sansom
Review by Alana White

London, 1546. This sixth entry in the Matthew Shardlake series finds Matthew once again ensnared in Henry VIII’s court: a place teeming with danger and intrigue. Henry is dying. His heir, Edward, is a child, and so all the king’s men are locked in a battle for power. No one is safe from religious persecution, no matter which side they claim. Catholic, Protestant—this includes Henry’s sixth wife, Queen Catherine Parr. To Catherine’s horror, her confessional book, “Lamentation of a Sinner,” is missing. This radically Protestant manuscript could destroy her if it finds its way to Henry.

Once again Catherine seeks Matthew’s help. As in the other books in this outstanding series, Sansom weaves a complex web of murder and double-dealing that looks straight into the heart of Whitehall. When Matthew is afraid—and he is very afraid of Henry VIII—the tension leaps off the page. London comes alive in all its terrible glory. Figures familiar to readers from earlier books stride through the pages: Cranmer, Wriothesley, the Lady Elizabeth, Thomas Seymour, Barak and his wife, Tamasin. Sansom knows his business and is not afraid to take risks that, in the end, lead readers in surprising and sometimes sobering directions. Highly recommended.