You will know the feeling when you have been reading a really superb book, and you can't put it down, but you don't really want to finish it either because it is giving you so much pleasure.
Last night I finished C.J. Sansom's Dark Fire. If I tell you this is a book based around a lawyer in Tudor London who has a hunchback it may not sound overly inviting, but what a great, great read it is.
Sansom has written three books about his lawyer Matthew Shardlake. I picked up the first one 'Dissolution' by sheer chance having noticed a little recommendation by a someone who worked in a local book shop. This one was about murderous monks and I enjoyed it well enough to read 'Sovereign' which is around how far rebels in the north of England were prepared to go to challenge the legitimacy of the Tudor's claim to the throne of England, as well as how Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine Howard headed towards tragedy. Now that is a brilliant read, and I couldn't wait to get hold of 'Dark Fire'.
'Dark Fire' is actually the middle one in the series and involves events some factual and some fiction, leading to Henry's marriage to Catherine Howard and the fall of Thomas Cromwell. There is lots of intrigue, mystery, and danger, but what sets these books apart is Sansom's ability to bring Tudor England to life. This one is based in the City of London and it manages to perfectly capture the sights, sounds, smells and attitudes of life at that time. He brings in the politics of the day, as well as the confusion the ordinary people experienced as one religious edict was contradicted by another: "What, in order to best avoid a charge of blasphemy, am I supposed to believe this week?" And Shardlake has a moral conscience and is angered by - for example - poverty, slum housing, and the threat posed by the 'WMD' of his day - the Dark Fire referred to in the title.
So what more do I have to say here to persuade people to read these wonderful books? Reidski incidentally thinks they sound like utter 'pish' but he has no taste. He does after all go out with me!
The Hamilton Hacker - Nice wee bit of sly humour from the April 1937 issue of the *Socialist Standard*.
12 hours ago