‘One of the author’s greatest gifts is the immediacy of his descriptions, for he writes about the past as if it were the living present’
Colin Dexter

‘Historical crime fiction is sometimes little more than a modern adventure in fancy dress. Not so the novels of C. J. Sansom, whose magnificent books set in the reign of Henry VIII bring to life the sounds and smells of Tudor England . . . Dark Fire is a creation of real brilliance, one of those rare pieces of crime fiction that deserves to be hailed as a novel in its own right’
Sunday Times

 ‘I’ve discovered a new crime writer who’s going to be a star. He’s C. J. Sansom, whose just-published second novel, Dark Fire is wonderful stuff, featuring a sort of Tudor Rebus who moves through the religious and political chaos of the 1540s with sinister élan’
James Naughtie, Herald

‘Sansom gives us a broad view of politics – Tudor housing to rival Rachman, Dickensian prisons, a sewage-glutted Thames, beggars in gutters, conspiracies at court and a political system predicated on birth not merit, intrigue not intelligence . . . a strong and intelligent novel’

‘Spellbinding . . . Sansom’s vivid portrayal of squalid, stinking, bustling London; the city’s wealth and poverty; the brutality and righteousness of religious persecution; and the complexities of English law make this a suspenseful, colourful and compelling tale’
Publishers Weekly
Dark Fire Foil Cover

Here is the original cover for Dark Fire, with a foil effect.


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It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings. . .

. . . him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared.
Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .