Sunday, 19 December 2010


The first in a series of novels about Matthew Shardlake, a hunchbacked lawyer during the Reformation. In this book, he travels to a monastery where one of Lord Cromwell's men has been murdered. As the man was there to convince the abbot to voluntarily close the monastery suspects abound. It's a complicated plot that really is quite fascinating. It's also interesting to see the subject of the dissolution of the monasteries from a variety of viewpoints.

One can both lament all the good work that the monasteries did with the poor, the sick and in education, as well as understanding that the majority of them had strayed, were accumulating vast amounts of property and wealth as well as behaving in ways that monks should not. Some kind of reformation was necessary, I do not know that it should have been so drastic. Of course, at a time when loyalty to anyone other than the king amounted to treason there really wasn't much choice.

Coming on the heels of A Trail of Blood, which only briefly touched on the subject, one could almost feel that they were meant to go together. This is highly recommended.

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