In C J Sansom's most recent installment, hunchbacked medieval lawyer Matthew Shardlake is asked to help Queen Catherine Parr recover a compromising book revealing her controversial religious opinions, before it is brought to King Henry VIII and causes her downfall and possible execution. His efforts to discover the book entangle him with some of the most powerful figures in the realm and lead him into danger and self-doubt.
As with the previous novels in the series, one of the best things about this novel is the vividity of description Sansom uses to bring the reader into medieval London. We experience the sights, smells and sounds, and are jostled in the crowds along with Shardlake. I'm not ashamed to admit that much of my historical knowledge is taken from historical fiction, and getting to know historical characters and their deeds by almost experiencing them by proxy sticks in my mind much better than by trying to memorise dates and battles.
Sansom creates memorable, believable characters, and the plot twists and winds deviously with betrayal, double-bluffs, spies and infiltration. Lamentation is full of emotional depth as well as intrigue, and keeps you turning the pages right until the end.
Next up: The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting by Syd Field