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Heartstone: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery (Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mysteries) Paperback – December 21, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Few contemporary authors are as adept as Sansom at blending a whodunit with a sweeping historical epic, as shown by his fifth mystery featuring English attorney Matthew Shardlake (after 2009's Revelation). In 1545, as a French fleet threatens invasion, the English queen, Catherine Parr, asks Shardlake to look into a matter for an old servant, whose son committed suicide shortly after filing a protest about the wardship of a boy the son had tutored. Soon after accepting this assignment, Shardlake is assaulted by a gang of thugs, who warn him to drop the matter. On his own, he also probes the past of a Bedlam inmate, Ellen Fettiplace, who was institutionalized 20 years earlier after being raped. Both cases turn out to be extremely complex, and Shardlake, who puts justice above his personal interests, ends up with several murders to solve as well. Strong prose makes Tudor England instantly accessible, and the clockwork plotting sustains deep interest throughout. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 1545, times are perilous for London counsel Matthew Shardlake and for his country. While the English, heavily taxed and with their coinage debased by Henry VIII, prepare for a naval attack from the French at Portsmouth, Shardlake takes on a case at the request of Catherine Parr on behalf of her former servant, whose son committed suicide after discovering “monstrous wrongs” against a teenage ward he once tutored. As the 43-year-old, hunchbacked Shardlake seeks to uncover secrets in the ward’s household, he also investigates the past of a presumably sane woman kept for years in Bedlam. Even with the queen’s patronage, the dogged Shardlake is threatened bodily while pursuing answers to both cases, which ultimately pit him against his old court nemesis, Sir Richard Rich. The heft of this fifth in the Shardlake series may be intimidating, but Sansom’s supple and action-packed prose should keep readers engaged. The novel vividly captures the Tudor scene, from its corrupt politics to the stench of its streets and the horror of battle. Historical mystery at its finest. --Michele Leber --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mysteries
  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143120654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143120650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the summer of 1545 England is at war with France. A massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the channel as a consequence of Henry VIII's unsuccessful invasion of France. The English fleet is gathering at Portsmouth, and the country is raising a militia army. The currency has been debased to pay for the war, and the country is gripped by soaring inflation and economic crisis. Against this backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty, Matthew Shardlake's legal services are requested by Queen Catherine Parr to investigate the death of Michael Calfhill, the son of one of her former ladies-in-waiting. Michael, a former tutor to Hugh Curteys, believed that `monstrous wrongs' were being committed against Hugh. Hugh, and his now deceased sister Emma, became wards of Sir Nicholas Hobbey when their own parents died of plague. Michael is found dead in an apparent suicide before the matter is dealt with. While Shardlake is not a lawyer of the Court of Wards, which governs the affairs of orphaned children, he agrees to take the case.

Investigation of the case involves travel through southern England where Shardlake also hopes to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettiplace (an inmate of the Bedlam whom we first met in `Revelation'). Shardlake's investigations lead him into danger as he seeks to make sense of what he uncovers. Neither his investigation of Hugh Curteys's wardship nor of Ellen Fettiplace's past progress smoothly and while he receives assistance from an old friend; he also crosses his old foe, Sir Richard Rich. Ultimately, Matthew Shardlake becomes caught up in the events at Portsmouth, where the fleet is massing, and ends up aboard the Mary Rose.
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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful By SF RAGE on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
C. J. Sansom is a wonderful writer, as many of you know and have said in the Amazon reviews. Being a bit over-eager to sink my teeth into his newest effort, "Heartstone", I ordered it from Amazon UK. When the book arrived, I dove into it and would like to announce to all that this, like his other Shardlake efforts, is a real winner.

It's a lenghty tome filled with another great story and character development (bravo!) and it does not disappoint. Sansom has retained his easy style, with its smooth, delicious crafting of words. The story (no spoilers here) is superbly wrought and moves evenly along. It is, simply, a magnificent reading experience. Reading it was a delight; it was so compelling that I could have read through the 450 pages in a single sitting. Forcing myself to take it easy and enjoy it in reasonable bits, I couldn't wait to continue, but dreaded finishing the book, so engrossing was it.

I gather the "Heartstone" US release is embroiled in some uncertainty and there's no firm word on when it will appear here. For the Sansom addicts out there, you may find the extra expense of ordering it from Amazon UK worth it. I certainly did.

My only question now is, Mr. Sansom, where's the next one?
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By William Thon on September 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Antoher Great book of the Matthew Shardlake series. I could not put it down and read the entire thing over the weekend. Truly the best writer of our age and takes you back in time to another time with great characters, superb plots and always exciting to the last page. You will not be able to put this book down. I hope all the Harry Potter readers who have now matured will start to read the Shardlake books. It is the best read imaginable. LOVE EVERY BOOK of this series. I'll have a hard time finding something this good to read now. I may just have to read them all again from the start. Also there is a buzz that the BBC will make these into a series, I hope its true
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: The churchyard was peaceful in the summer afternoon.

Lawyer Matthew Shardlake has been summoned to Queen Catherine Parr, last wife on Henry VIII. A former servant of hers has asked for help investigating claims by her son that his former student, Hugh Curtey, has been mistreated by Hugh's guardian, Sir Nicholas Hobbey. Traveling to Portsmouth with his assistant, Barak, allows Matthew to also investigate the past of Ellen Fettiplace, a young woman committed to Bedlam, but by whom?

Sansome has gifted his readers with yet another wonderful book filled with historical details. The themes of politics, greed, poverty, conscription, injustice to the less powerful and the cost of war caused by those in power on those who have no choice but must live with the consequences have been repeated through time but here are set in the middle 1500s.

One of my pleasures in reading historical mysteries is to learn. The Council of Wards was something with which I was not familiar. Most particularly, however, was learning that, but for the stubborn conviction of one woman, England might never have split from Rome.

I also wish to applaud the UK publisher, Mantle, for a physically beautiful book, from the dust cover and embossed Tudor rose on the hard cover, to the inclusion of color maps, a sewn-in bookmark and, as always, the author notes at the end. In this day of ebooks, such details are greatly appreciated.

I very much enjoy Sansom's, and thus his character's, voice. It has a very conversational tone which immediately drew me into the story, along with the lack of prologue. His characters are somewhat atypical in that Matthew is by no means heroic.
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