Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
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I loved this sequel even more than the first in the series! The author's credentials as a lawyer with a PhD in history are evident in the complex, finely written story that he creates around Tudor era lawyer, Matthew Shardlake.
There is really no part of this book that I can disparage. The characters are multifaceted and realistic. I adore Matthew - he is clever and righteous but also insecure and modest. In this novel he is paired up perfectly with Jack Barak, who is young, courageous, and loyal. The two of them make the perfect team, and Matthew is able to get over the loss of his assistant Mark.
Sansom does a marvelous job of creating the sights, scents, attitudes, and lifestyles of Tudor England without ever making the reader feel that they are trudging through an information dump. Making use of what may be the best use of first person narrative I have read, he places the reader inside Matthew's thoughts and circumstances. How disappointed I was to glance up from the page and be reminded that I was not truly traipsing through 16th century London.
Once again the mysteries - and there are a few in this installment - were secondary to the characters and setting in my mind. That does not mean that they were any less expertly done. Shardlake is immersed in two major cases: one that he accepts because he believes in the accused innocence when nobody else does and the other because Cromwell leaves him no choice. Both storylines keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the very end, and little is as it originally appears.
My only disappointment was that when I finished this book, I realized that the next Shardlake episode, Sovereign, was not on my shelf. No worries. It is now on its way to my door!