Sansom C. J.
Although I have only just now come across this novel, it is Sansom´s first of the Shardlake series. And it is his best, if I may say so. Sansom chooses the revolutionary times of Oliver Cromwell to set his plot. Shardlake, lawyer, trusted supporter of the reformation and Cromwell´s confidant, is sent to the monastery of Scarnsea in Sussex, where brutal murders have happened. As Cromwell´s commissioner his real task is to find ways to dissolve the monastery without causing too much of an uproar.
Being a true believer Shardlake distrusts the Papist traditions at the monastery and treats the abbot and his monks full of contempt, especially so, as more murders happen and his own life is at stake. His faithful partner, young Mark, falls in love with Alice, the nurse at the infirmary and distances himself more and more from Shardlake´s task. Brother Guy, the doctor at the monastery, is the only person at Scarnsea the lawyer trusts, maybe because Guy is an outsider with his black skin, just like Shardlake with his hunched back.
In a very painful process Shardlake finds out, that the execution of Ann Boleyn has been a big sham, her lover a poor innocent soul, everything has been staged for King Henry to get rid of a wife he had become bored with. The dissolution of monasteries all over Britain another big scam, only executed to get possesssion of their treasures and real estate, so that the King´s and Cromwell´s cronies get their share. In due course Shardlake solves the crimes at Scarnsee and the monastery is dissolved.
A totally disillusioned Shardlake returns to London, lonely and sad as Mark has fled to France with Alice.