Reviews

‘It’s an enormous book which brings together a thrilling story, Tudor background and utterly believable characters. As a result of reading it, I have an optimistic feeling that ‘history’s mystery’ will never come to a
close where Sansom is concerned . . . This latest is indubitably the best, which is saying something when one considers, for example, the remarkable Dark Fire . . . As ever with C. J. Sansom, the history is delineated with a masterly hand’
Antonia Fraser, The Lady

‘C. J. Sansom has created a convincingly realistic Tudor detective in Matthew Shardlake. He lives and breathes in an utterly convincing world, drawing the reader into the darker corners of history’
Philippa Gregory
 
‘A triumph of Tudor history and mystery. Heartstone, as bristling as its predecessors with outlandish deaths, suspicious behaviour, jeopardy and plots of fiendish deviousness, plunges you into catastrophic upheavals caused by Henry’s foreign policy. Throughout, Heartstone is a rousing tour de force of period recreation, testifying to Sansom’s fascination with history . . . Like all the Shardlake books, Heartstone winningly shows Sansom’s crafty flair for hoodwinking even the most hawk-eyed reader’
Peter Kemp, Sunday Times


 
 ‘This is the fifth in C. J. Sansom’s engrossing series of Tudor crime novels . . . The best crime fiction depends at least as much on character, atmosphere and sense of place as on plot, and Heartstone is no exception. It may, however, be exceptional as a crime novel in that we don’t actually see a body until page 384, but it doesn’t matter. The reason it doesn’t is that Sansom’s story develops naturally. And naturalness is perhaps the key to these books, for all the foul and unnatural deeds with which they deal. They work because they feel real. This is good writing and it should be read’
Spectator

‘At once compulsively readable and highly satisfying . . . Sansom handles a large cast and a complex narrative with great skill and his set piece scenes . . . are simply stupendous. An entirely engrossing novel with an intriguing twist’
Daily Express

‘A great attraction of C. J. Sansom’s series of novels set in the reign of Henry VIII lies not merely in the authentic background but in the personality of the main character – that persistent seeker after truth, Matthew Shardlake, Sansom’s intelligent hunchbacked Tudor lawyer . . . Sansom brilliantly exploits the hindsight we bring to the historical novel, for we turn the pages with bated breath, waiting for the inevitable, wondering who will survive. Life aboard the ship, top-heavy, crowded with soldiers and sailors, is rivetingly described. It’s a long struggle for Shardlake, but the hill of truth is well worth climbing’
Independent

‘The pace and tension hot up splendidly as Shardlake’s inquiries take him to the Hampshire home of a family with a great deal to hide. A wholly unexpected twist takes us to a superb denouement . . . terrific stuff, for both fans and newcomers to the series’
Laura Wilson, Guardian

‘The fifth in Sansom’s hugely enjoyable series of historical thrillers . . . Sansom’s attention to historical detail is rightly praised . . . Yet it is the rich characterization that really brings this series to life, none more so than Shardlake himself, a beguiling hero’
Financial Times

‘Murder, mystery and turbulent history are expertly twisted together in Sansom’s fifth Tudor crime novel’
Sunday Times, Culture ‘Must Reads’

‘C. J. Sansom combines a knack of getting us to experience the past with a talent for warmly memorable characterization and skilled plot construction. We are as fond of the canny but vulnerable Tudor lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his macho sidekick Barak as we are of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin or Terry Pratchett’s Lord Vetinari and Sam Vimes . . . Thank goodness for every one of the 600 pages, Sansom’s fans will say’
The Times
 
‘This fifth outing for the hunchbacked Tudor lawyer-sleuth Matthew Shardlake, a man with morals as upright as his body is crooked, has more plot lines than Henry VIII had wives, but Sansom is in complete control of his material and paces his yarn perfectly. Sly comments on Henry’s unwise expansionist ambitions have modern echoes, but Sansom’s own attempts at expansionism need not cause concern – you will speed through this novel like King You-Know-Who devouring a capon’
Daily Telegraph

‘The quality of the literary amateur detective has improved no end in recent years, reaching new heights with C. J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake, a vividly three-dimensional creation, humane, troubled, fearful and obstinate, towing us through the streets of Tudor London to share the stench, displacement and terror he finds there . . . a satisfyingly rich confection, and – as with its predecessors – when I put Heartstone down I knew a great deal more about Henry’s reign than I had before’
The Tablet

‘C. J. Sansom’s atmospheric and erudite Matthew Shardlake novels open a window onto another world, an age so different in sentiment, timbre and tone that we know it could never be our own. Heartstone, a tale of manipulation and brutality in the highest echelons of Tudor society, is the fifth in Sansom’s classy series and his imaginative powers show no sign of flagging. Not since Umberto Eco penned The Name of the Rose has a historical crime novelist captured so perfectly a people and their place, and harnessed them with such intelligence and credibility to shadowy tales of politics, misdeeds, murder and mystery . . . If you haven’t yet discovered the Shardlake series, you’re in for a treat’
Lancashire Evening Post

Preview

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Heartstone preview

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Anton Lesser (Part 2)
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Synopsis

Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII’s invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel . . . 

Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr.

Asked to investigate claims of ‘monstrous wrongs’ committed against his young ward, Hugh Curteys, by Sir Nicholas Hobbey, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. There, Shardlake also intends to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettiplace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam.
 
Once in Portsmouth, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing for war. The mysteries surrounding the Hobbey family and the events that destroyed Ellen’s family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne.  Soon events will converge on board one of the king’s great warships gathered in Portsmouth harbour, waiting to sail out and confront the approaching French fleet. . . 

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