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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 . . .


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 his young ward, Hugh Curteys, by Sir Nicholas Hobbey, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. There, Shardlake also intends to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettiplace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam.


Once in Portsmouth, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing for war. The mysteries surrounding the Hobbey family 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. Soon events will converge on board one of the king’s great warships gathered in Portsmouth harbour, waiting to sail out and confront the approaching French fleet. . .

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C. J. Sansom

C.J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history.

After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. Sansom came to prominence with the Shardlake series, his historical mystery series set in the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century. Dark Fire won the 2005 Crime Writers' Association Historical Dagger. He has also written Winter in Madrid, a thriller set in Spain in 1940 in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and Dominion, an alternate history novel set in a Britain following a fictional Axis victory in World War II.

He lives in Sussex.

» See more books by C. J. Sansom

Professionally Packed

All of our books that a have dust wrapper are covered in clear protective, removable film and are packed professionally in bubble wrap and a box for shipping so that they reach you in perfect condition.