This book was well recommended by a friend, but did not inspire the same delight in me I found the main character difficult to like and rather wooden, while the story seemed to drag especially In the middle Nevertheless I will try again with the second novel in the hope that things will improve with greater acquaintance. I enjoyed reading this book The main character is a man of good intentions and integrity in a disreputable profession, in a frightening world, and he works for a ruthless and cruel man This throws up many sharp contrasts between himself and his circumstances The setting, a monastery immediately before the dissolution, is interesting, and the convincing detail of the very unreligious behaviour of the monks suggests that dissolution was the best way forward, despite the unwelcome side effects The multitude of characters called Brother was confusing, as there was too little reference to their differences as the story unfolded to remember who they all were Some interesting contrasts..the sin of homosexuality in the monks, the inability to see an attractive woman as a killer, the murder of a young pretty girl because her mere presence turned the monks to lust, and the generally unsavoury behaviour in this holy community The fac5 that Shardlake is a hunchback puts him in some ways outside normal relationships, and the way others react to him reflects the uncivilised nature of our medieval ancestors. Dissolution the first book in the best selling Shardlake series It is , a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England sinceHenry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen And under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries There can only be one outcome dissolution But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control Cromwell s Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea But investigation soon forces Shardlake to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes I m only about 20% through this book right now, and am loving it The pace is fairly slow, but filled with descriptions of what I assume England was like at the time of Henry VIII Even down to the descriptions of the rooms our protagonist enters I do know something of the history of the time, but the author gets you feeling it, feeling the fear of saying the wrong thing, feeling the poverty and desperation of the common people.With regard to the story itself, I have absolutely no idea who the murderer is at this point That s good because there s nothing worse that knowing who did it early on and then going through the motions of reading the story to prove you were right all along It s not often I write a review so early in a book, but I m really enjoying this A good find. It took me a long time to get through this, the story was interesting enough but the pace was turgid and few of the characters very likeable There were red herrings aplenty and I didn t guess the solution so it had that going for itThe historical setting is well researched and the writing is clear and well phrased but it all just lacks something to give it oomph I may try the second part or not Pleasantly surprised I m not a big fan of historical novels, let alone sleuthing, when the characters are real historical figures, in this case Cromwell and Mark Smeaton The big problem for me is that the novelist owes nothing to the true historical personalities and can impute motives and actions without regard to what actually happened which is, of course, unknown and unknowable in most circumstances Dissolution, however, managed to suspend my disbelief just enough to create a credible world within the context of its fictional sleuthing plot.The story flows well The writing is intelligent The characters are believable and than the usual one dimensional caricatures. C J Sansom s Matthew Shardlake series of Tudor murder mysteries are a great discovery The first, Dissolution, is set largely in a monastery that is under threat of being dissolved and surrendered to King Henry VIII shortly after the judicial murder of Anne Boleyn Samsom holds a PhD in history and it shows in his easy but authoritative handing of the historical context of the story and of the driving interests of the main characters There are no modern individuals poorly masquerading as 16th century people in this text, unlike in many other historical novels that one encounters But this attention to detail never overshadows the centrality of the story and of the murder mystery at its heart Samsom writes well and the principal character, the hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake, is a memorable creation I bought the first 4 novels in the series in one Kindle purchase and moved straight on to the second, Dark Fire, as soon as I finished this one Novels of this quality are a real treat.One word of caution only Don t read these books out of sequence because the series charts an ongoing story and several characters reappear in later volumes Otherwise, fans of serious historical fiction or of detective stories set within an exotic historical era will find much to enjoy in this intricately plotted and very well executed book. Another great novel from CJ Sansom He is an excellent author whose descriptive powers bring his words to life through interesting characters.I bought my copy second hand from one of the suggested sellers The package was well wrapped as it came from the UK It s a bit worn but otherwise in good condition, no tears or markings. Very very good An unusual main character, who is not physically perfect he has a hunchback, which makes him the subject of cruel mockery, but also a sharp, clever brain When he is introduced, he has a narrow, defined view of the actions surrounding the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in which he is involved, believing that it is the right and proper thing to do, given the enormous amount of wealth amassed in many of the monasteries As the book progresses, he questions his own beliefs and feelings This is not an easy read, uncomfortable in several places, and very much warts and all Some of the descriptions of his own physical discomfort made me squirm, as did the descriptions of the way of living at that time, with sights, sounds and smells described so well that you actually feel you are living it.The murders are woven into the overall story and the steps towards the solving of these murders is slow and methodical, while keeping the reader guessing I have already bought the next book but after such an absorbing read I thought I probably needed something a bit lighter before embarking on the next one so that I can take it all in and appreciate it Excellent. I had originally picked this book up when it was much famous, around 5 or 6 years ago, but put it down disliking it intently Due to the ease of reading books along with the prices on the Kindle I decided to give it another go to great success Dissolution is the gritty story of one of Cromwell s inspectors investigating the death of one of the other inspectors when attempting to persuade the monastery to close and hand in their charter through the carrot and the stick It was a great story, well told with compelling characters, although some of the plot twists were a little too well signposted.Great book for those into historical fiction.