King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government of Henry’s successor, eight-year-old Prince Edward. As heretics are hunted across London, and the radical Protestant Anne Askew is burned at the stake, the Catholic party focus their attack on Henry’s sixth wife, Matthew Shardlake’s old mentor, Queen Catherine Parr.
Shardlake, still haunted by events aboard the warship Mary Rose the year before, is working on the Cotterstoke Will case, a savage dispute between rival siblings. Then, unexpectedly, he is summoned to Whitehall Palace and asked for help by his old patron, the now beleaguered and desperate Queen.
For Catherine Parr has a secret. She has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King’s attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. But, although the book was kept secret and hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen’s private chamber, it has – inexplicably – vanished. Only one page has been found, clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.
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 theft of Queen Catherine’s book proves to be connected to the terrible death of Anne Askew, while his involvement with the Cotterstoke litigants threatens to bring Shardlake himself to the stake.
"Ingeniously combines a keen scholarly intelligence with the suspense and surprises of the detective genre...Lamentation is sure to give Sansom’s many fans further cause for celebration." - Sunday Times Culture
"Shardlake shines in this expertly executed tale... Sansom has the gift of plunging us into the different worlds of the period." - Independent
"Sansom conjures the atmosphere, costumes and smells of Tudor London with vigour." - Observer
"So engrossing is the tale...it successfully maintains suspense for over 600 pages....With the Shardlake series, and with this volume in particular, Sansom has surely established himself as one of the best novelists around." - Spectator
"A remarkable achievement...a testament to Sansom’s gift for matching a satisfying mystery plot with an enduringly sympathetic hero, backed up by a historian’s extensive and confident understanding of the period that confers authority on every passing description, whether of a privy council interrogation or an argument between women at a market stall" - Observer
"The atmosphere of fear engendered by Henry VIII’s oscillating religious tensions is brilliantly evoked. Shardlake deserves his wide and rapturous readership." - Times Historical Fiction Books of the Year
"Shakespearean characterization and Byzantine plotting: Amid all the stink and muck of Tudor London, Sansom offers a master class in royal intrigue." - Kirkus
"Everything works in Sansom’s superb sixth Matthew Shardlake novel: the murder mystery with grave political implications, the depiction of Tudor England, and the further development of a lead who’s both courageous and flawed...The rich period details burnish Sansom’s status as one of today’s top historical writers." - Publishers Weekly
"With all this perfectly true historical melodrama as background, C.J. Sansom doesn’t need much to twist the plot with all his might and it works. I read this in one weekend, stopping only to sleep. Not to be missed." - Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail