The book I chose to read in January is Heartstone - the fifth and most recent title in a series of period crime thrillers written by PHd historian (ie. he knows what he’s talking about!) C. J. Sansom
The five novels revolve around a fictional lawyer come amateur detective called Matthew Shardlake, active during the reign of King Henry VIII.
I have read the first two Shardlake books – Dissolution and Dark Fire – but am yet to read #3 Sovereign and #4 Revelation – despite the fact I have them sat on my bookshelf – so I’m really not sure why I skipped straight ahead to Heartstone, I think I thought this was the next one – I will have to go back and play catch up at some point.
This is an ambitious book, and a long one at over 700 pages – but none of those are filler as there is a lot going on. There are two separate cases of wrongdoing for our clever lawyer to investigate, both of which attract multiple twists and turns (and dead bodies) along the way – and all of this is set against the backdrop of the war against France, and in particular the French navy’s arrival at Portsmouth and the ensuing battles at sea.
|I particularly liked the part of the book about the Mary Rose as I remember a trip to see the remains of the ship when I was little|
And our lead characters are believable too – Shardlake, clever as he is, and seemingly in possession of more ethics and morals than the rest of Tudor England combined, doesn’t always make the right deductions or the right calls, in fact sometimes he gets things quite spectacularly wrong. And his dogged determination to solve even the cases that nobody wants solved, despite the fact that his continued meddling endangers himself, his clients and everyone around him, is rightly highlighted by his manservant / right hand man Jack Barak as a major character flaw.
All in all, another great book from an accomplished and well rounded author – but I would definitely advise you start with one of the earlier books in the series if you would like to try a Shardlake novel for yourself – they are shorter and punchier than this one, a little faster moving, and most importantly provide important background for the lead characters which help you to understand their motivations in their later adventures.
And here's my arty thang:
I've decided to make individual 7" x 7" loose pages - artwork on the front, details of the book and a copy of my review on the back - and at the end of the year I'll bind them in some way (probably a stab binding of some kind - there's a one inch flap of paper on the left that you can't see as I have tucked it under for the photo)
This one has a watercolour and charcoal background, with a bit of stamping (the manuscript lettering, to represent one of the lead character's legal documents) and a stag hand cut from black card overlaid.
His heart is nice and glossy as it is topped with diamond glaze, but you can't really see that in the photo.
Now to go and link this up over at Darcy's blog, and to get blog hopping to read everyone else's reviews!
Next month I'll be reading America Unchained by comedian Dave Gorman, which will be quite a different experience to Heartstone, I think :)