Book two in the Matthew Shardlake series by an author
I admit I’ve never heard about before, despite
my love of good historical fiction. This really was
a case of not judging a book by its cover, as the
copy I picked up for 50p in a charity shop in Lowestoft
in the summer was rather tackily emblazoned with a
cover consisting of too much fake gold leaf writing
and a dodgy picture of a castle. Luckily as it turned
out the back cover caught my attention.
Dark Fire is set during 1540 Tudor England who’s
finely realised main character; Matthew Shardlake
is a hunchbacked lawyer for an unenviable talent for
solving crimes for none other then Thomas Cromwell.
The novel, despite being the second of currently three
novels with Shardlake in, is totally stand alone,
and whilst historically crime fiction may not appeal
to all, and has been widely covered in the past, Dark
Fire scores deeply with its excellent attention to
The main characters are finely realised, and most
importantly, believable. The setting is painted with
such care that you instantly transported into the
late medieval world, surprising not that far removed
form our own in shocking violence and power politics.
A rare treat, which actually was hard to put down,
and has eagerly shown the way to the other novels
in the series.
Review by Jamie Spracklen