King Henry VIII is slowly dying and his closest councillors are wielding their increasing freedom of power to pursue their personal agendas of Protestantism or Catholicism. Against this backdrop the general population of London live in absolute terror not knowing whether they could be accused of heresy by EITHER side, even for possession of rosary beads for example. Torture and burnings are commonplace.
Sergeant Matthew Shardlake is summoned to meet with Queen Catherine Parr again and discovers that Catherine is in fear for her life! She has had a book stolen from a locked chest in her private chambers …….. a book that she has written herself, “Lamentations of a Sinner” in which she pours out her Protestant beliefs and practices. She is in no doubt that somehow it has been stolen by the powerful Catholic royal councillors who would use it to remove her from power as a step towards returning the authority of the Pope over England.
Lamentation is book 6 in CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series, our hero agreeing to investigate the theft. He begins by questioning servants and palace guards but slowly becomes immersed in the intrigue of the royal court, and eventually…… with the king himself.
As usual this book is true to the historical facts of the time. The Duke of Norfolk, Archbishop Cranmer, Archbishop Gardiner, Sir Richard Rich are all present and play significant parts in the plot. One major true incident in the book involved the torture and burning of Anne Askew, the English writer, poet and Protestant martyr condemned as a heretic. Anne was actually tortured in the Tower AFTER her trial and sentence which was most unusual. Even more unusual was that she was tortured by Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriotheseley and Sir Richard Rich and this is all woven neatly into the book. One of the best medieval mystery books I have read.