Monday, October 29, 2012

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom

The setting of Dissolution by C.J. Sansom is a monastery named St. Donatus located in the south east of London in 1537, a time when the country was divided between those loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and those loyal to King Henry V111 and the Reformation.  Matthew Shardlake, the protagonist, is an astute lawyer who is very conscious of his deformity, a hunched back. He believes in reformation but he does not like his boss, Thomas Cromwell.  He was sent by Thomas Cromwell to quietly and discreetly investigate the murder of a Commissioner at the monastery. The Commissioner was stationed at St. Donatus for the purpose of checking out any irregularities, sexual or otherwise, at the monastery.  Naturally, the monks are suspects in his murder but the monks suggest outsiders are to be blamed; smugglers or practitioners of witchcraft.  Shardlake is sent to investigate with only one assistant, young Mark Poer.  

I am on page 180.  So far I am finding the characters at the monastery very interesting. The ones who stand out are the black healer, referred to as an infirmarian, named Brother Guy; Alice, the 22 year old Aide who works in the infirmary; and Brother Gabriel; the librarian and musician who seems to be attracted to Mark.   Brother Guy is referred to as the black goblin by the prejudiced townspeople. In general, the monks who have a monopoly on the brewing of beer, are not liked by the people in the town. For one thing, their beer is filthy with hens dropping dung in the beer. At this point in the story.  Shardlake suspects that the Commissioner may have found some accounting irregularities at the monastery which could be a motive for his murder.

The other books in the series are Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone.

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