Genre : Fiction
Published : 4 Apr 2008 - Macmillan
Spring, 1543. King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, whom he wants for his sixth wife. But this time the object of his affections is resisting. Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court are watching keenly, for Lady Catherine is known to have reformist sympathies. Matthew Shardlake, meanwhile, is working on the case of a teenage boy, a religious maniac who has been placed by the King's council in the Bedlam hospital for the insane. Should he be released as his parents want, when his terrifying actions could lead to him being burned as a heretic? When an old friend is horrifically murdered Shardlake promises his widow, for whom he has long had complicated feelings, to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him to connections not only with the boy in Bedlam but with Cranmer and Catherine Parr and with the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation.
As London's Bishop Bonner prepares a purge of Protestants Shardlake, together with his assistant, Jack Barak, and his friend, Guy Malton, follow the trail of a series of horrific murders that shake them to the core, and which are already bringing frenzied talk of witchcraft and a demonic possession for what else would the Tudor mind make of a serial killer ...?


REVELATION is the fourth in a series of historical thrillers that are to Ellis Peters what P.D. James is to Agatha Christie. It works as a stand-alone novel, but aficionados will feel they are rejoining a party, catching up with old friends. Opening a C. J. Sansom is like time travel... Sansom's deft sense of dramatic timing takes us effortlessly through this fat, juicy book. For a while we jog along, building up connections, clues, suspense, and then wham, bang we're off at a skimble-scamble gallop. His skill lies not only in plotting and the creation of rounded and memorable characters, but in magicking up a richly textured backdrop: the buildings, weather, stench and clamour of London and Westminster, with their higgledy-piggledy houses, inns and tanneries, brickworks and brothels, even wayside flowers... The best Shardlake yet.

The Times

A terrific historical crime novel: a serial killer is at large in Tudor London, where sectarian religious struggles rage and factions at Henry VIII’s court nervously wait to see if Catherine Parr will marry him. Fantastically gripping, as well as brilliantly evocative of feel and preoccupations of period.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

The murder mystery is enthralling, but Sansom is intent on the bigger picture. The book has the compulsive quality of a fast-moving narrative, but takes the reader deep into a world where torture and death are not merely endemic but fantastically envisioned at every turn… REVELATION is not merely the title of the book, nor an indication of what Shardlake finally achieves in his search to unmask a murderer. It is the apocalyptic nightmare of the Four Last Things: Hell on earth - and this is a masterly depiction

The Independent

Violent clashes of radical religious groups; tax increases to fund foreign wars; whales washed up in the Thames; scandalous public care of the mentally ill; even references to a man killing prostitutes in East Anglia. No, not a round-up of recent headlines, but some of the plot strands in REVELATION, the fourth in CJ Sansom's superb Tudor detective series… Shardlake has been dubbed 'the Tudor Morse'; like Morse, he is solitary, cerebral, occasionally flawed and driven by a belief in an ideal of justice that stands above the petty rivalries of his profession. He has the same fierce moral core, but he also has a warmth that Morse lacked… The other great appeal of these books, apart from the cast of regular characters, is the richness of Sansom's historical research. He has a doctorate in history and a previous career as a lawyer, but wears his considerable expertise lightly. He also achieves the rare alchemy of combining characters who are sympathetically modern in their psychology with a setting that is authentically historical… [REVELATION] is very skilfully structured - not an incident is wasted - and once the killer's intentions become clear, don't expect to put the book down until you've seen it through to the apocalyptic finale.


This ambitious panorama of a book, the fourth in Sansom's series set in not-so-merrie Tudor England, more than lives up to the promise of the previous three… With wonderful scene-setting that ranges from Bedlam to the well-appointed mansion of the understandably reluctant object of Henry VIII's attentions, newly widowed Catherine Parr, plus some deft plotting, REVELATION is an absorbing and thought-provoking window on the Tudor world.


C.J. Sansom will reaffirm your faith in publishing…a suspenseful plot, plus a feast of information about the period. It's a joy to read. And reread.

USA Today

Sansom's absorbing, substantial novels transcend the limitations of crime fiction while conforming to its conventions

Sunday Telegraph

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