Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

When I first started to look for books by C.J. Sansom, I couldn’t find any Swedish translations of the book. Well, at least not at my favourite online bookstore. So I contacted the English book publisher in order to get a copy to review. I thought that if this was a great book, it definitely shouldn’t be hidden from Swedish readers. So, I got my book and started to read. But the text felt familiar somehow. Then I realised that I had read it before. But in Swedish! How was this possible? Apparently, Dissolution has been translated but it’s not available anymore. At least not in my favourite bookstore. So I felt a bit foolish. But let’s forget about my red cheeks and focus on the book.

The story

Dissolution takes place in 1537, when Henry VIII was king and there were lots of tension within the church. If you know your history, you would know that Henry VIII made himself head of the Church of England and separated from the Pope and the Catholic Church.

The hero of the story Shardlake, a lawyer from London, is assigned to investigate a horrific murder at a monastery in Essex. This leads to a mystifying puzzle that no one can foresee the outcome of. Shardlake is an unusual character I would say, mainly because of his physical appearance; he is a hunchback. He isn’t a Quasimodo of the Tudor era however. But as a reader, I can make the assumption that being a hunchback and a successful lawyer in the 16th century wasn’t an ideal situation.

My own views

The story reminds me a lot of The name of the rose by Umberto Eco (the movie with Sean Connery and Christian Slater is more known though) even though Dissolution takes place about 200 years later. But there is the same sense of mystery and of course the monastery settings also contribute. I actually really enjoy reading Dissolution and even though it was set in the 16th century, it felt new somehow. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to read “historical novels”. But I really like this and I look forward to read more in the series (which are not translated into Swedish by the way). I believe that there is an interest in these books. A lot of people enjoy the TV series The Tudors and it takes of course place in the same time as C.J. Sansom’s books about Shardlake.


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