I very much enjoyed CJ Sansom's 2012 alternate-history novel Dominion, but I suspect I was not alone among his fans in feeling just a little impatient at the long wait for the next instalment of his Tudor crime fiction series. (The last, and best, in the series, Heartstone, was published in 2010.)
Well, the glad tidings from publisher Pan Macmillan is that the long, dark vigil is almost over. Sansom's crime-solving, hunchbacked Tudor lawyer Matthew Shardlake will be back in the autumn (with any luck this means September 1) with Lamentation, the sixth instalment of this brilliant series.
The teaser from Macmillan promises all the heretic-burning, back-stabbing political intrigue that has captured readers' imaginations since the publication of Dissolution in 2003. Lamentation finds Henry VIII on his death bed and a savage political struggle going on around him. Shardlake, failing yet again in his ambition of staying out of the Russian roulette that is Tudor politics, is dragged into the fray by his patron Catherine Parr, who urgently needs to recover a dangerous lost text.
From the blurb: "Shardlake’s investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London but leads him and Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of the politics of the royal court; a world he had sworn never to enter again. Loyalty to the Queen will drive him into a swirl of intrigue inside Whitehall Palace, where Catholic enemies and Protestant friends can be equally dangerous, and the political opportunists, who will follow the wind wherever it blows, more dangerous than either."
The brilliance of these novels lies in their deft mixture of historical detail, political intrigue and first rate mystery narratives, propelled by credible and fascinating characters. I cannot wait. I don't know how I'll sleep until it's published.
Reviews of previous Shardlake novels: