Dissolution

By C.J. Sansom,

Book cover of Dissolution

Book description

Awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger - the highest honor in British crime writing

From the bestselling author of Winter in Madrid and Dominion comes the exciting and elegantly written first novel in the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery series

Dissolution is an utterly riveting portrayal of Tudor England. The year is…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

14 authors picked Dissolution as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

When you turn the pages of this book, you feel you can see, smell, and hear the dark streets and alleys of Tudor London. This book inspired me to place my books in Tudor England and start The Tudor Rose Murders Series.

It is Tudor Crime at its best. I was so captivated by the characters, the detail, the pace, and the plotting that I could not put it down and felt wretched when I turned the last page. 

I admire C.J. Sansom’s meticulous research in his book, which lends authenticity and believability to his story. Sansom’s Mathew Shardlake series is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.

There is plenty of history, law, and court politics as Shardlake–a hunchback lawyer, undertakes politically motivated murders and crimes. I also appreciate that his main character has a physical disability, and Sansom uses it effectively to reflect the attitudes (mostly ungenerous) of the time.  

CJ Sansom, a renowned historian, released this first fiction novel to huge acclaim. I was fascinated to find the investigator was a London lawyer during the reign of Henry VIII. It ticked all the boxes: history, a juicy murder, crime, and mystery. I was not disappointed. In my own writing, I endeavour to make my characters individual and memorable and, therefore, look for that in books I read.

The protagonist, lawyer Matthew Shardlake, has the brain, persistence, and vision of a Holmes or Poirot in uncovering the clues and is admired by all for his ability to win cases. Despite…

I read this book years ago but had forgotten about it, until a rekindled friendship brought it back. My friend gushed about the series, and naturally, I knew there was something I had missed, as my friend practically has her own library, so her taste is never wrong. 

Clearly, I first read this book when I was too young. Upon re-reading, I was drawn in by the addictive isolation of the snowy monastery in 1537.

The whole book has a chilling factor enshrouding the mystery that kept me hooked. For a slow reader, I read it in just one weekend.…

Ever since I was a child, I’ve adored murder-mysteries and thrillers, growing up on a diet of Agatha Christies and Dorothy L Sayers, so I was delighted when I picked up a copy of C J Sansom’s Dissolution, which is the first book in the Shardlake series. 

Dissolution is set in 1537, just after Henry VIII had made himself supreme head of the church in England and begun his dissolution of the monasteries – turbulent times. One of king’s commissioners is murdered during a visit to a monastery and lawyer Matthew Shardlake is tasked with investigating the murder.

I…

From Claire's list on the Tudors that really grab you.

Dissolution brings Tudor England of 1537 brilliantly to life. In vast detail, the book evokes all the sounds and smells of the period while dealing with the huge topic of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in an engaging and interesting way. A cracking whodunnit in the classic sense which introduces Matthew Shardlake, lawyer turned detective. 

The first in Sansom’s dazzling series involving the exploits of London lawyer Matthew Shardlake as he grapples with the demands of Henry VIII and lethal lackey Thomas Cromwell. Comedy is not the essence of this tale, though there are comic moments, but it is certainly lively! As one who loves to be immersed in an atmosphere of intrigue and the occasional murder, this suited me admirably. It suited me even better that the sixteenth-century scene is so vividly evoked. My own novels are mainly light-hearted and frivolous, but the value of setting and context has always mattered. Without social context…

From Suzette's list on making one laugh or ponder.

During the period of dissolution of the English Catholic Church, King Henry VIII assigns a 16th-century attorney, Matthew Shardlake, to investigate the murder of a royal commissioner at a cathedral. He uncovers evidence of sexual abuse, treason, and embezzlement. 

I enjoyed this story as it told of an outsider hunting a murderer within a closed community protecting one of their own. Multiple transgressions have occurred, but the culprit could be more than one person. Many “wheels within a wheel” hide and complicate the evidence for Attorney Shardlake.

Dissolution is the first of C. J. Sansom’s magisterial 7 Matthew Shardlake mysteries, set during Tudor England’s Reformation. In 1537, Henry VIII’s feared Vicar General, Thomas Cromwell, sends Shardlake, a brilliant, hunchback lawyer, to investigate the murder of a royal commissioner who was investigating the Monastery of St. Donatus on the south English coast. Once an avid reformer, Shardlake is unsurprised to find embezzlement and sexual misconduct at the monastery, but he also recognizes the beauties of the services and the veniality of the men who will be enriched by the monastery’s dissolution. The portrait of Tudor politics, monasticism, and…

Like the other authors on my list, CJ Sansom skilfully creates a whole world in his novels. This book takes the reader back to the sixteenth century, to the time of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The protagonist, a lawyer and supporter of the religious reforms, is sent to investigate the brutal murder of one of the king’s commissioners. The story is gripping, but it is the historical detail that really captured my imagination, as Sansom takes the reader back to the 1500s. The narrator is a believable character, intelligent and thoughtful, and his struggle with his mission is…

From Leigh's list on wanting to read about murder.

Want books like Dissolution?

Our community of 11,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like Dissolution.

Browse books like Dissolution

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in King Henry VIII, monks, and Thomas Cromwell?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about King Henry VIII, monks, and Thomas Cromwell.

King Henry VIII Explore 48 books about King Henry VIII
Monks Explore 17 books about monks
Thomas Cromwell Explore 7 books about Thomas Cromwell