Dissolution Review

Dissolution by CJ Sansom is the first of seven in his Matthew Shardlake Mysteries series. Set in the mid-16th century, amid the backdrop of the Church Reformation era, we follow lawyer Matthew Shardlake to St. Donatus monastery to investigate the murder of a fellow Commissioner of the King. As usual, nothing is as it seems, and soon after, one murder follows another. Dissolution is a fair introduction to the series and is definitely something I can see myself continuing with the series. Shardlake is calm and collected during his investigation and inquiries and is rarely driven to anger. However, he obviously has flaws of his own, which he himself recognizes, but still let it take over at times.

“ A man’s place in the world is hard, a monk’s most of all. He has obligations set by God, and fierce temptations to resist.”

Prior Mortimus

I personally didn’t really care too much for the mystery reveal at the end. I rather enjoyed the process and journey Shardlake and his assistant went through throughout the story to investigate the other monks and servants instead. But again, if this is how his other Shardlake series will be, I will likely be content, mainly because to me, there’s something very calming when reading an investigator doing his or her job to investigate the case with coolness, calmness, and using their wits rather than just busting through every door, guns a’blazing or in this setting, sword a’swinging.

“The Bible says God made man in his image but I think we make and remake him, in whatever image happens to suit our shifting needs.”

Matthew Shardlake

Although I likely won’t start the next book in the series right away, this series is something I definitely see myself going for when I want to dive back into a good mystery set in mid-16th-century Tudor England. The author’s no nonsense style of writing and pacing, I’m hoping, will continue in the series and become another page turner like Dissolution. Although a work of historical fiction, the major events that took place, such as the Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries along with some of the characters, did exist during those times. This always makes for interesting researching and follow-up during and after the book has been completed.


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