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Revelation: A Matthew Shardlake Mystery (Matthew Shardlake Mysteries) Hardcover – February 5, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews
Book 4 of 6 in the Shardlake Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In March 1543, while London buzzes about Henry VIII's campaign to win newly widowed Lady Catherine Parr for his sixth wife, hunchbacked barrister Matthew Shardlake has grimmer matters on his mind in Sansom's gripping fourth Tudor historical (after 2007's Sovereign). Not only has his close friend and colleague Roger Elliard been savagely murdered but Shardlake finds himself assigned the incendiary case of a young religious fanatic committed to Bedlam. Learning of a link between Elliard's death and a previous slaying, one touching Lady Catherine's household, he reluctantly agrees to join the top-secret probe by his mentor, Archbishop Cranmer—instantly plunging both himself and his intrepid assistant, Jack Barak, into a maelstrom of political intrigue, spiritual strife and personal peril. With its wealth of period detail, compelling characters and bold, fast-moving plot, this may be the most rousing Shardlake adventure so far. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

In the fourth historical detective novel featuring barrister Matthew Shardlake, Sansom once again demonstrates his consummate knowledge of Tudor England’s politics and culture, and even the sounds and smells of sixteenth-century London’s streets. This time out, the reign of King Henry VIII is in its twilight years, but His Majesty is nevertheless interested in taking a new wife, who would be his sixth. Religious issues continue to clash, as they have during much of his reign—Protestant reformist ideas slamming up against more traditional religious dogma and practices. It is a dangerous time; people “must be careful what they say in public these days.” Shardlake has been assigned a peculiar case: a boy whose religious-oriented rantings have caused him to be incarcerated in a Bedlam hospital for the mentally unstable. When his good friend is found murdered, Shardlake is off and running to connect all the puzzling dots between the two cases. Like its predecessors, this installment in the series is sophisticated entertainment, with an intricately but not confusingly wrought plot. --Brad Hooper
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Product Details

  • Series: Matthew Shardlake Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (February 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020515
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Matthew Shardlake, C.J. Sansom's clever protagonist, faces off against a serial killer in 1543 London, in his newest adventure, 'Revelation.' Sansom's Shardlake series, known for its historical accuracy and interesting characters, is carefully plotted and entertaining. Shardlake, the hunchback lawyer, is involved with the embattled Protestant faction he much mistrusts in the pursuit of a serial killer who is knocking off victims in a gruesome manner prescribed by the Biblical book of Revelations.
The characters from the earlier books are all present - Jack Barak and his wife Tamasin, Guy the former monk Moorish physician - but they are far more than stock figures - their lives are complicated, and they develop and change with each book. Jack and Tamasin are having problems in their marriage, and Guy has taken in an apparently likeable apprentice whom Matthew distrusts. Matthew himself is thinking of the possibility of love and marriage.
Sixteenth century London comes alive under Sansom's pen, and Matthew remains one of fiction's more compelling, unique, and sympathetic heroes.

On a personal level, I found the serial killings to be gruesome enough to make me uncomfortable and I found myself skipping over some passages. I deducted one star for this, although it probably won't bother most readers.

For readers who haven't read any of the series, think about starting at the beginning. It's a great series. The characters develop and their relationships change. It's 'Dissolution,' 'Dark Fire,' 'Sovereign,' and 'Revelation.'
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of the four books in the series this one is best left to be read last. Each of the first three are meant to be very different style mysteries. This book is a mixture of the second and third books style with alot of social commentary added in. Don't get me wrong I read the book in four days and enjoyed every page but for me I knew the characters and setting so well that it moved along quite quickly. The weakness of this book is that the author chose to add several story lines that would highlight a more modern way of thinking than possible for people of this period. From psychology to relationships these lines detract from the action and at points your meant to believe they were ahead of Freud in their thinking. Even the medicince seemed alittle to enlightened. I guess you can debate these points but they do provide some unsettling moments in the book which I found detracting. I gave it 5 stars. Would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the other three. Would not recommend it to anyone just starting the series.
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Format: Hardcover
C. J. Sansom's "Revelation" takes place in 1543, a tumultuous year in English history. Religious fanaticism is on the rise among Protestants and Catholics alike; Henry VIII, who is ailing, has been urging Lady Catherine Parr to become his sixth wife, but she is reluctant to accept his proposal; the chasm between rich and poor is huge, with filthy, starving, and often mentally ill beggars crowding the thoroughfares. The homeless are everywhere, and "most people simply looked away, made the sufferers invisible." The sick often die in the streets, since there is no hospital care for the destitute.

In this, the fourth installment in Sansom's splendid series, the narrator, forty-year old lawyer Matthew Shardlake, seems to have finally found peace of mind. Although he has a humpback that still attracts stares and the occasional taunt, Matthew has secured a good position as one of two barristers appointed to plead before the Court of Requests. He enjoys his work and makes enough money to pay a housekeeper, eat well, and dress in fine robes. Although he has no wife, he does have many loyal friends whom he values. Unfortunately, trouble is brewing, and Matthew's equanimity is about to be shattered.

One of Shardlake's closest friends is found brutally slaughtered in a public place. Since the victim had no enemies, the killing appears to be a random act of violence. Soon, however, the authorities discover that there have been other similar crimes. Matthew joins forces with Archbishop Cranmer and his inner circle to identify and apprehend a serial killer who uses the book of Revelation as a blueprint for torturing and murdering his victims.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Revelation by C.J. Sansom is the latest and the fourth in his series of Matthew Shardlake mysteries, set in Tudor England. These historical mysteries are great; they are based on historically accurate incidents from which Sansom has drawn fabricated but truly compelling stories of political and religious intrigue (the two were even more tightly entwined than today), and, always, murder.

Sansom's hero (and mine), the humpbacked lawyer Shardlake, is drawn into the intrigues, usually against his will, because of his intelligence and because of his neutrality in the never-ending political struggles. He is rightfully frightened of becoming involved in those battles, where to end up on the weaker side means to end up dead -- or imprisoned. But using his wits and his few trusted friends, including a Black ex-Monk and doctor and his right-hand man of Jewish ancestry, Shardlake stays alive and solves a few mysteries as well.

In Revelation, a serial killer is on the loose, a murderous maniac obsessed with the explicit and violent prophecies from the Book of Revelation. I had never know that the Book of Revelation was contested as being a true gospel (word of God) by prominent Christians including John Calvin and Martin Luther. My own research found that Thomas Jefferson called Revelation "merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams."

I always learn so much reading Sansom's books. His books are full of many tasty (as well as some very unsavory) tidbits of English history and as a rigorous researcher, his facts line up with the history books and his stories don't stray far from the believable.
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