Dissolution by C.J. Sansom – 20 Books of Summer 2024

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom was first published in 2003 and it’s the first book that I’ve read by the author, in fact it was only when I read his Guardian obituary when he died in April that I realised that I had almost certainly missed out on some really good reads. I think I did borrow one of his Shardlake books from the library before, but realised that it was part of a series, but never did get around to getting the first one, until now. I really enjoyed it.

The setting is England in 1537. It’s the year after Anne Boleyn’s execution and Henry VIII is beginning to dismantle the large network of monasteries that have managed to accumulate huge riches over the years. Henry is determined to strip them of their wealth and Thomas Cromwell has sent a young man to St Donatus Monastery to investigate their finances, but he is found dead there, he has been beheaded in the kitchen, and Cromwell sends Matthew Shardlake and his young apprentice to investigate the murder.

When they start to question the monks they soon realise that they are very far from being holy men, or even good men, the place is awash with sin, but which of them is a murderer?

This is an atmospheric read with a long snowstorm adding to the sense of menace as the monastery turns into a prison for Shardlake and his apprentice, trapped with  a murderer on the loose.

This was another of my 20 Books of Summer.