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Heartstone by C. J. Sansom

Heartstone (original 2010; edition 2011)

by C. J. Sansom

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8464310,632 (4.16)124
Authors:C. J. Sansom
Info:Pan (2011), Paperback, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Historical Fiction, Mystery, Shardlake, 1515CC

Work details

Heartstone by C. J. Sansom (2010)

  1. 50
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (bookfitz)
    bookfitz: While not a mystery, "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel is another great novel set in Tudor England.

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This is the 5th instalment of the historical mystery series featuring Matthew Shardlake that is set in Tudor times during the reign of Henry VIII. England is once again at war with the French and mobilising for the threat of invasion with Portsmouth the most likely point of attack. That's also the area of the country that Shardlake and his assistant, Jack Barak, find themselves heading to on a case that Queen Catherine Parr has involved them in. The son of one of her old servants lodged an appeal to the Court of Wards to investigate "monstrous wrongs" being committed to Hugh Curteys, the ward of Sir Nicholas Hobbey. The son was then found hanged in an apparent suicide. Due to the Queen's intercession Shardlake, along with Barak and Hobbey's lawyer, Dyrick, and his clerk are tasked with taking depositions of all involved. Meanwhile, Shardlake has also been investigating the past of Ellen Fettiplace, a resident of Bedlam that seems to have taken a shine to him. Maybe he can kill two birds with one stone as the event that caused her malady took place not too far from where he will be staying he will see what he can find out while he's there.

If you've read any of the previous books in this series then you will know what to expect with this one: An accurate portrayal of daily life of the time with real events taken as a backdrop to a clever mystery that unfolds as you turn the pages. Some old familiar faces turn up, some to help and others to hinder while the relationship between Shardlake and Barak continues to develop. Just by reading the book I learnt a lot about the period with the effects of war, not just with the levy of the army and naval forces required to withstand the invasion but the raising of taxes and debasement of the currency that was required to pay for it. Then there is the wholly corrupt issue of the Court of Wards itself. A huge money-making venture for the crown at that time and rife for all sorts of dishonest behaviour. All in all a very good if sometimes meandering entry into the series.
  AHS-Wolfy | Apr 10, 2015 |
It's been too long since I immersed myself in C. J. Sansom's Tudor England. This audiobook made some long highway miles pass enjoyably and made me determined to catch up on the rest of his books.In this book lawyer Mathew Shardlake has been asked by Queen Catherine Parr to look into a case of a minor ward that has come to her attention. The ward lives in the south of England near Portsmouth which is preparing for an invasion by the French. When Shardlake and his assistant, Barak, travel down they encounter many soldiers travelling to Portsmouth. Among them is the archer that Shardlake met in the previous book, Sovereign. He allows them to travel with his company so they are not held up on the road. Shardlake has an additional reason to undertake this commission; he will be close to where the Bedlamite, Ellen Fettiplace, grew up and he can investigate who is responsible for her being in Bedlam. Both cases seem to bring Shardlake to the attention of people who do not want him to complete his investigations and even wish to do him harm. He also gets caught up in the bigger conflict between England and France. It is gripping stuff and history comes alive. The narrator, Anton Lesser, is fabulous. ( )
  gypsysmom | Apr 4, 2015 |
A well descriptive book on the era of King Henry V111 in 1545. Not what I would call a pacey book, but the times of the 16th century explained in detail during the solving of several mysteries is enough to keep one interested. The hunchback Shardlake the lawyer certainly adds to the books strength. Fact mixed with fiction is always an amazing combination. Well written Mr Sansom ( )
  nilbett | May 1, 2014 |
This is the 5th book in the mystery series, featuring Matthew Shardlake, a Lincoln's Inn lawyer during the reign of Henry VIII. The more I read these books, the more I enjoy them. In this story, Matthew is helping one of Queen Catherine's women by investigating the death of her son, who was trying to keep an orphaned boy from losing his land. Investigating the mystery sends Matthew and his assistant Jack to Portsmouth where King Henry is gathering troops to fight the French. Although the mystery behind these books is always interesting, what I really enjoy about all of these books in the historical detail in the setting. England is in turmoil with an imminent invasion by the French. Young men are forced to serve in the army and the King has thrown a panic in the economy by producing a diluted currency to help pay for the war. The descriptions of the living conditions and specific events - especially the final battle on the Mary Rose - are vivid and always send me off to various history sources trying to get more background on what happened. Hope this series goes on, although in this book, Henry is on his last wife, so not sure how long it can last... ( )
  jmoncton | Mar 19, 2014 |
C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series follows a common formula: a dead body, followed by more dead bodies, and a persistent investigator who gets himself into a pickle before solving the crime. Sansom's novels, set in Tudor England, include a large dose of history that usually masks the formula. Heartstone is set in 1545, when the French are threatening invasion, and troops are amassing at Portsmouth to fight them off. Shardlake is asked by the Queen (Henry VIII's last wife, Catherine Parr) to investigate events leading up to a young man's suicide. Shardlake decides he will also investigate another matter of personal interest, that occurred 19 years earlier.

So: we have one dead body (the young man), and a bit of intrigue concerning the older case. And then we get lots and lots of period detail. Now, I'm not a bloodthirsty soul but the second dead body didn't show up until page 360, about the time I wondered where all this was going. And while the story picked up its pace at that point, there was too much that felt contrived. Shardlake's personal investigation was based on supposition more than evidence, and he just happened to be correct. He did, indeed, get himself into a pickle but his rescue and escape were a little too convenient. And the mystery behind the suicide turned out to be an oft-used and not very believable plot device.

I've developed quite a fondness for Shardlake and his assistant, Jack Barak. I've heard Sansom is planning more books in this series, and I would definitely read them. I just hope for a tighter, more exciting story the next time. ( )
  lauralkeet | Jan 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
"Sansom brilliantly exploits the hindsight that we bring to the historical novel, for we turn the pages with bated breath, waiting for the inevitable, wondering who will survive."
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The Churchyard was peaceful in the summer afternoon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Catherine Parr requests
That Shardlake investigates
Case in Hampshire.
Another war with
France? Flagship Mary Rose sinks
With all hands in port.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067002239X, Hardcover)

The #1 international bestselling author brings us his fifth Shardlake novel.

Summer, 1545. England is at war, and Matthew Shardlake is about to encounter the most politically dangerous case of his career. While a massive French fleet prepares to attack, every able-bodied man is being pressed into military service. Meanwhile, an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr asks Shardlake to investigate claims of "monstrous wrongs" committed against a young ward of the court. Shardlake's inquiries take him and his loyal assistant, Jack Barak, to Hoyland Priory and Portsmouth, where the English fleet is gathering. There they uncover a startling link between the ward and a woman incarcerated in Bedlam. With a fantastic backdrop of wartime intrigue and a dramatic finale onboard one of Henry VIII's great warships, Heartstone is certain to catapult this internationally bestselling series to greater prominence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:32 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne.… (more)

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