Dissolution is the first of C. J. Sansom’s historical crime novels. Set in 1537, Thomas Cromwell is doing his bit for the English Reformation by closing down papist institutions on the orders of King Henry VIII. One of Cromwell’s commissioners is sent to the remote Scarnsea Monastery where he comes to a grisly end. Enter Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and reformation enthusiast. Shardlake is dispatched to Scarnsea to find out what happened to his predecessor and to ensure that Scarnsea is dissolved once and for all.
I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. I am a fan of crime fiction but generally avoid historical fiction so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As someone whose knowledge of English history is patchy at best, I was absorbed in this story from start to finish. The pacing is brilliant, the cast of characters intriguing and the protagonist extremely believable. The author must have undertaken a huge amount of research before writing this book but I never felt as if I’d wandered into a history book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the research is incorporated so seamlessly – I really felt like I was there. The writing is beautiful and I would have no hesitation in recommending this book.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.