Genre : Fiction
Published : 1 Apr 2003 - Macmillan
It is the year 1537 and Thomas Cromwell has ordered all monasteries to be dissolved, in an effort to turn England into a Protestant state. The country is in a turmoil of new savage laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers England has ever seen. Queen Anne Boleyn has been executed on questionable charges and everywhere courtiers and landowners are casting acquisitive eyes on the lands of the monks. Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer and a long-time supporter of the Reform, but when he is asked to investigate the brutal murder of Cromwell’s Commissioner, the truths he reveals force him to question everything that he believes.


Remarkable... The sights, the voices, the very smell of this turbulent age seem to rise from the page.

P.D. James

[A] terrific debut novel... DISSOLUTION is a remarkable, imaginative feat. It is a first-rate murder mystery and one of the most atmospheric historical novels I’ve read in years.

Mail on Sunday

As clever and enthralling as THE NAME OF THE ROSE... Matthew Shardlake deserves a place in the pantheon of detective fiction.


Extraordinarily impressive. The best crime novel I have read this year.

Colin Dexter

A strong competitor to Umberto Eco’s great monastic whodunnit, THE NAME OF THE ROSE.

Scotland on Sunday

As good a new thriller as I have come across for years. The London of the 1530s smells real, the politics and the religious machinations are delicious and Sansom’s voice rings true. His troubled hero Shardlake, doing Thomas Cromwell’s dread work in the burning monasteries, is a kind of Tudor Morse and a character to treasure. Great stuff.

Sunday Times

DISSOLUTION is not just a fascinating detective story, but a convincing portrait of a turbulent period...a thoughtful book.

Sunday Telegraph

Sansom paints a vivid picture of the corruption that plagued England during the reign of Henry VIII, and the wry, rueful Shardlake is a memorable protagonist . . . With this cunningly plotted and darkly atmospheric effort, Sansom proves himself to be a promising newcomer.

Publishers Weekly

Terrific. Historical fiction at its finest.

Peter Robinson

...cunningly plotted, atmospheric novel...

Woman and Home

[CJ Sansom is] an incredible talent. Not only has he produced a brilliantly plotted and atmospheric crime novel, he makes history come alive on the page. It’s a long while since I’ve been so impressed by a crime debut.

The Bookseller

...a fascinating and frightful look back to 1537...Sansom seems to have been born with, or instinctively acquire, that precious balance of creativity and research that lets a mystery set in another time walk a delicate line between history and humanity.

Chicago Tribune

Terrific atmosphere and historical accuracy is combined with a truly likable protagonist in Shardlake.

MLB News

Showing 5 of 13 reviews