The dissolution of the monasteries is complete. Henry VIII, afraid that religious reform will lead to social unrest, has ordered that the reformation should go no further. His chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, is under threat from a resurgent Catholic faction at Court.
Matthew Shardlake has lived quietly for the last three years, building up his legal practice and avoiding politics. However, his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally killing her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with Cromwell – and a new assignment.
The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now the formula has been discovered in the library of a dissolved London monastery, and Cromwell is determined to be the man who delivers it to his King. But when Shardlake is sent by him to recover the formula, he finds the official who discovered it, and his companion, brutally murdered. The formula has disappeared, and Shardlake must find it – he has only twelve days before it is to be demonstrated before the King…
"Historical crime fiction is sometimes little more than a modern adventure in fancy dress. Not so the novels of C.J. Sansom, whose magnificent books set in the reign of Henry VIII bring to life the sounds and smells of Tudor England...DARK FIRE is a creation of real brilliance, one of those rare pieces of crime fiction that deserves to be hailed as a novel in its own right" - Sunday Times
"A strong and intelligent novel... Sansom appears to have entirely beaten the second novel blues" - The Guardian
"With weapons of mass destruction, political manoeuvring, social injustice, poverty, violence, poor sanitation, the threat of war and religious intolerance, C.J. Sansom's highly atmospheric and well-crafted sixteenth-century thriller not only vividly describes the turbidity of Tudor London, but also perhaps serves as a reminder that for many people on this planet little has changed." - Jasper Fforde
"The second in this remarkably atmospheric, historical, quality crime series featuring the Tudor lawyer, Sarnsea. It certainly stands up to the excellence of his first, DISSOLUTION." - The Bookseller
"...spellbinding Tudor-era tale of murder, conspiracy and betrayal... Sansom’s vivid portrayal of squalid, stinking, bustling London; the city’s wealth and poverty; the brutality and righteousness of religious persecution; and the complexities of English law make this a suspenseful, colourful and compelling tale." - Publishers Weekly
"One of this author’s greatest gifts is the immediacy of his descriptions... But it is Shardlake himself who steals the show. His honesty and humility shine out in a dark world where murder and mayhem are the order of the day." - Colin Dexter
"I’ve discovered a new crime writer who’s going to be a star. He’s C. J. Sansom, whose just-published second novel, DARK FIRE is wonderful stuff, featuring a sort of Tudor Rebus who moves through the religious and political chaos of the 1540s with sinister élan. You will hear more of him." - James Naughtie, Glasgow Herald