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Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery, No 5
C.J. Sansom

Jan 20, 2011 /ISBN: 978-0-14-312065-0
Historical Mystery / Thriller

Reviewed by Claudia VanLydegraf

This is the first book I have read by C.J. Sansom, and I have some catching up to do. This man is a fabulous writer and he nails the history of the Tudor period in all of its reality. He lives and breathes it, and it seems that he may be channeling someone from that time to make it so real today.....

Heartstone is a story set during the time of the war between England and France in 1545. The English are amassing in the southern part of the country to fight off the French, after failing in an attack forged by Henry VIII. Many English citizens are putting together militias for protection and Queen Catherine wants to find out what caused a young man,Hugh Curteys, to think himself wronged.
Matthew Shardlake is an investigator, a man of legal services, who gives those services to the Queen, Catherine Parr. One of the Queen's retired ladies-in-waiting had a son named Michael Calfhill who was tutoring a young boy named Hugh Curteys. Calfhill thought that some "wrongs" were being committed against Curteys and, shortly after the Queen decided to look into this, Calfhill committed suicide. Or so it is thought.
Shardlake is deeply engulfed in this investigation. He travels to the South of England and becomes embroiled in many of the things that are happening there. Besides the intrigue involving Calfhill and the monstrous wrongs done to Hugh Curteys and a woman named Ellen Fettiplace, who Shardlake has known before and who is currently an inmate of Bedlam (a mental institution) Sharlake is also trying to find the facts dealing with several other deaths he is figuring out. He meets up with an old friend who helps him a bit and then a nasty foe of his, named Sir Richard Rich, all of which only makes all the questionable things more questionable and more skeptical and, eventually, Shardlake ends up ship-bound.

This book is a huge effort and takes a long time to read (beware 600 some pages) and there is a lot of ground covered in this story, so I will not spoil it and give you all the details, as they are many and there are lots of people attached to this investigation. Suffice it to say: It is well worth the time to read.

I love Tudor history and the many things that motivated English citizens to come to America. This book shows a lot of true monarch history, the laws of the time and those shady political decisions. This is a romp and an eye opener that so much happened in English history; possibly your history and definitely my ancestors' history. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan on getting hold of the prior four books that make up this series.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Dark Fire

Reviewer's Note: Shardlake, the main character is a Hunchback which makes his work all the more difficult

Reviewer Claudia VanLydegraf, is the author of Notes from Nobody
Reviewed 2012