Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: London, 1543, During the reign of King Henry VIII
First Sentence: The high chandeliers in the Great Hall of Lincoln's Inn were ablaze with candles, for it was late in the afternoon when the play began.
This novel is the third in Sansom's Matthew Shardlake Mystery series.
The theme of this novel is madness. It is the time of the Protestant Reformation. Religious reform has embroiled London in a tangle of religious extremes. An unfortunate expression of personal beliefs could get one imprisoned, or even executed for heresy. Among the fervent believers are those who have become obsessed with the commands of the Bible.
Contrasted with the madness of some extremists, are those who suffer from psychological illness. Many of these are confined in Bedlam. Bedlam was London's hospital for the insane.
As the plot progresses, Shardlake encounters many different forms of madness. Shardlake is charged with defending a young man whose extreme religious obsession has caused him to be held in Bedlam. When one of Shardlake's friends is murdered, he joins the investigation for the killer. It soon becomes apparent that the killer is using the Book of Revelations as a guide for a series of gruesome slayings.
Will Shardlake find the killer before completes his evil plan? And will he be able to help his young client?
Sansom does a great job of bringing history to life. As Shardlake investigates the murders, we experience the city of London during the 16th century. Sansom's tale is a great historical novel, an intriguing mystery and an enjoyable read.
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