Viking, Feb 2009, $25.95
In 1543 London, Henry VIII courts recently widowed Lady Catherine Parr. He plans to persuade her into becoming his sixth wife. While much of town follow the escapades of the aging royal, hunchbacked barrister Matthew Shardlake remains in shock following the brutal murder of friend Roger Elliard.
Meanwhile Shardlake works the case of a teenage religious fanatic locked up by the King’s Council in Bedlam while his parents want him released. As he works the case, Shardlake finds a connection between the Bedlam incarceration, Elliard's homicide and another killing that reaches into the household of Lady Parr. Although fearful of investigating the monarch’s latest choice as queen, Archbishop Cranmer persuades Shardlake to do so. He, his assistant Jack Barak and his friend Guy Malton follow clues that lead to other killings and a belief that witchcraft is involved as Bishop Bonner plans a religious cleansing of Protestants.
The latest Shardlake investigative historical thriller (see SOVEREIGN) is a great entry that brings to life the intrigue surrounding the throne as an aging ailing Henry seeks one more spouse. The secondary and tertiary cast is solid, but it is clearly Shardlake’s tale as he and his two companions follow clues that lead them to conclude a bloodbath in the name of God is coming. REVELATION is a strong sixteenth century tale starring a hero trying to prevent ethnic cleansing.