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Revelation (2008)

by C. J. Sansom

Other authors: Knut Johansen (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Matthew Shardlake (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,683567,298 (4.15)167
Matthew Shardlake has his hands full this time defending a young religious fanatic who has been thrown into Bedlam. On top of that, Shardlake's friend is murdered, and the quest to find the killer leads Shardlake right to the steps of the king's latest romantic conquest, Catherine Parr.

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English (54)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
The year is 1543 and the hunchbacked lawyer and amateur detective, Matthew Shardlake, has sworn not to involve himself in any more affairs of state. But his quiet working life is shattered when his old friend Roger Elliard is found with his throat cut in Lincoln's Inn fountain. When the king's coroner seems to be covering up the murder, Shardlake finds himself trying to find the killer and to master his own affection for the widow.

What Shardlake begins to uncover is more horrifying than anything he and his young assistant Jack Barak have ever experienced. There have been multiple killings in previous books, but this is the first time Shardlake has found himself on the trail of a serial killer, one who treats killing as an art form and takes as much pleasure in teasing his pursuers as in the murders themselves. Shardlake shows his own brand of moral courage, facing down insults about his hunched back as well as physical danger.

Sansom has done extensive historical research and leads the reader through 16th-century London as if he lived there himself. Revelation takes a little time to get its main plot moving but it is very skilfully structured and once the killer's intentions become clear, don't expect to put the book down until you've seen it through to the finale.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
I’m sorry if I’m beginning to sound like a cracked record, but I continue to love the Matthew Shardlake Tudor detective series by CJ Sansom. Fourth in the series, ‘Revelation’, is a roller-coaster ride of killings motivated by the Book of Revelation’s fire and damnation. Shardlake and his assistant Barak race around London struggling to second-guess the murderer’s motivations and identify his next likely target.
Sansom achieves a difficult feat for a historical novelist, he balances world-building – the Tudor toxic politics and Tudor gossip-mongering – will Lady Catherine Parr say yes to the King’s proposal – with Shardlake’s legal world and the fascinating detail and colour which brings London in Spring 1543 to life. Once again we see Shardlake’s vulnerability – when an old friend is murdered in mystifying and frightening circumstances – and his moral strength as he faces the dangers of investigation. These dangers do not threaten only his life but of those around him; they also threaten his position and future, as he is drawn unwillingly again into the circle of the Tudor court where queens, and courtiers, often last only a short time. These are the only historical novels I have read which are truly page-turners in its meaning of ‘one more chapter before I turn out the light’.
Set at a time of radical religious reform, when saying the wrong thing may find you shamed, hanged or burned, Matthew is working on the case of a teenage boy sent to Bedlam hospital. Is he mad, or possessed by the devil? Is he safer in Bedlam or with his parents where he might escape and be burned as a heretic. When Matthew’s friend is found dead in bizarre circumstances he is charged with solving the crime by Archbishop Cranmer. Guy of Malton, former apothecary monk from ‘Dissolution’, the first book in the series, is now a doctor and has a theory that excludes God and religion. Could a serial killer be at loose?
If you want to lose yourself in book, to travel to another world and time, then try this series. I am already anticipating the loss when I have read the last book. But the Shardlake books have so much detail and depth with recurring characters who become familiar, I know I will be re-reading them soon.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | May 11, 2020 |
It is the end of winter in 1543 and Henry is wooing Catherine Parr with the intention of making her his sixth wife. This is not popular with Archbishop Cramer as Parr is known to have sympathies to the reformist agenda.
Shardlake has agrees to take on the case of a lad who has been diagnosed as mad and who is in the asylum called Bedlam. People are starting to think that his mania will get him sentenced as a heretic.

On returning home later one evening he discovers a body in the fountain, this is his good friend Roger, and his throat has been cut. Shardlake pledges to Dorothy that he will find Roger's killer and bring him to justice. His initial investigation and the coroners inquiry raise suspicions within him that there is a lot more to the murder that he is being told, and he challenges the coroner after the hearing. He is summoned to Archbishop Cramer's office and is told that this is not the first murder that they have suppressed the details of as there is a suspicion that this will threaten Catherine Parr. Heving successfully avoided the political scheming recently, he is now right back in the middle of it.

So Shardlake begins his investigation, and as he does, he realises that these grisly murders are linked, and have a pattern that brings a chill to his heart. The race is on to find this murderer, before he kills again, but he is always one step ahead and is following Shardlake and his assistant Barak.

Sansom has done it again with this book. Not only do you have dramatic tension as they struggle to find a very clever killer, who knows so much about them, but there are political intrigues, personal conflicts and layers of stories in here. Nicely paced too, with an excellent climax as the events unfold at the end. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
This one is a bit more interesting as it deals with mental illness in Tudor England. The characters are well drawn again and I wrong about who the culprit was in the end, always the mark of a great mystery. ( )
  AnnaHernandez | Oct 17, 2019 |
4 stars: Very good

From the back cover: Tudor England, 1543. King Henry VIII is wooing the rumored reformist Lady Catherine Parr, whome he wants for his sixth wife. But this time the object of his affection is resisting. Meanwhile, Mathew Shardlake is working to defend a teenage boy, a religious fanatic being held in the infamous Bedlam hospital for the insane. Then, when an old friend is murdered, Sharlake's search for the killer leads him back not only to Bedlam, but also to Catherine Parr-and the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation. As Bishop Bonner prepares to purge London of Protestants, Shardlake uncovers a series of horrific murders, igniting frenzied talk of witchcraft and demonic possession.

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This is fourth book in the very good mystery series set in Tudor England, featuring hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. I like this series for two reasons. First, you can tell it is written by an actual historian. It feels real -- starting with the lack of cleanliness and nicety in that era. It was not "the good old days". I also like the our main characters are flawed and make mistakes and have hurts just like real people do.

This particular offering was much more grisly than the others, as the murders become deeply deranged with offscreen torture and terribly mangled bodies, each representing one of the seven "vials" described in Revelation. All leading up to the destruction of "The Great Whore". I won't spoil it here, but its a good read.

In the backdrop of all of this are some real feeling marital issues between characters, and Shardlake also falling into some very real, emotional traps.

The only thing I didn't like about this book, is I don't believe that even in that time, this many murders and that grisly, could have been hidden by so many for so long. Purportedly this is so that it would not get back to the King for political reasons. I just don't believe that could happen.

At the end of the book, the author has multiple pages of historical notes. Reading those you can see truly how detailed and authentic the books are. Also, because some of the items follow known history, she makes clear which source documentation and/or theories about the motivations of a real historical figure, she takes from.

a great, engaging series. ( )
  PokPok | Jun 30, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sansom, C. J.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Knut JohansenTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The high chandeliers in the Great Hall of Lincoln's Inn were ablaze with candles, for it was late afternoon when the play began.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Matthew Shardlake has his hands full this time defending a young religious fanatic who has been thrown into Bedlam. On top of that, Shardlake's friend is murdered, and the quest to find the killer leads Shardlake right to the steps of the king's latest romantic conquest, Catherine Parr.

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Haiku summary
Matthew Shardlake on
the trail of a fanatic
serial killer.
(passion4reading)

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