Dissolution: A Novel of Tudor England Introducing Matthew Shardlake Audiobook | C. J. Sansom | Audible.com
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Dissolution: A Novel of Tudor England Introducing Matthew Shardlake | [C. J. Sansom]

Dissolution: A Novel of Tudor England Introducing Matthew Shardlake

This riveting debut set in 1534 England secured C. J. Sansom’s place “among the most distinguished of modern historical novelists” (P. D. James). When Henry VIII’s emissary is beheaded at an English monastery, hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake is dispatched to solve the crime. But as he uncovers a cesspool of sin, three more murders occur - and Matthew may be the next target.
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Publisher's Summary

This riveting debut set in 1534 England secured C. J. Sansom’s place “among the most distinguished of modern historical novelists” (P. D. James). When Henry VIII’s emissary is beheaded at an English monastery, hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake is dispatched to solve the crime. But as he uncovers a cesspool of sin, three more murders occur - and Matthew may be the next target.

©2003 C. J. Sansom (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

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  •  
    Grcla Dallas Area 02-29-12
    Grcla Dallas Area 02-29-12 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very good"

    I didn't think I would enjoy this...after all, a hunchback detective? But, I love it! The narration is wonderful. I must say, however, that the oldest review (2-21-12 by Catherine) partly spoiled it for me by telling us who the murderer is in her review. Jeesh. Why would someone do that? Don't read her review if you want the ending to be a surprise.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ 06-15-12
    Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ 06-15-12 Member Since 2003

    MikeFromMesa

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    "Wonderful"

    I don't generally read murder mysteries but bought this book because it centered on a time period I find to be interesting - Tudor England during the reign of King Henry VIII. I thought I might learn something new about the time period and the dissolution of the monasteries while, at the same time, have an interesting murder mystery to solve. The decision was a really good idea.

    The murder mystery left me guessing as to who might have committed the grisly crime and the scene of the murder, a Roman Catholic monastery, made the mystery even more interesting. The cast of possible murderers is large enough to make guessing the culprit something of a challenge and I found myself caught up in the lives of the people involved and caring about who committed the crimes and why. That alone would have made this purchase worth while.

    But the book also provided enough background information about Tudor England to prove educational without seeming to do so and I learned quite a bit I did not know about the effort to close the church monasteries. All in all this book was good enough for me to recommend it to a friend who does not listen to Audible but does a good deal of reading and to convince me to buy the next book in the sequence.

    While the book alone is quite good Steven Crossley's narration only serves to add to the enjoyment I got from listening. The recording is flawless without those sometimes annoying repetitions I find in other audible offerings when the recording was originally done on CDs and transferred to digital.

    Highly recommended if someone has any interest in this time period and in murder mysteries in general.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Snoodely Santa Barbara, CA United States 09-13-13
    Snoodely Santa Barbara, CA United States 09-13-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Terrific Story, Writing, and Narration ..."

    ... and I am using the word "terrific" in all of its meanings: "big," "excellent," and "terror-inducing." I would not recommend this book to everybody. However, if you have an intellectual bent, an interest in history, and a fondness for the mystery genre, then you will love "Dissolution." I noticed that some earlier reviewers did not like this audiobook, because it moved too slowly for them. "Dissolution" does, indeed, unfold slowly; so if you are looking for a thriller, you can bypass this one. However, if you have the patience to appreciate a beautifully-crafted, intricate, intriguing mystery, then get ready to clean house, do all your ironing, mending, and laundry, and wash the car -- just so you can keep listening to "Dissolution." In fact, some aspects of this novel -- the history part, the dirt part, the cruelty part, and the dark part -- run completely contrary to my own normal tastes in audiobooks. I generally like thrillers packed with action and humor. Yet still, I could not stop listening to "Dissolution": That shows you how well it is written (all the subsequent novels in the Matthew Shardlake series, as well, by the way). Listening to C. J. Sansom's novels feels like watching a gripping movie that engages all the senses -- including smell, touch, and taste. You will learn more about Tudor England than you probably ever wanted to know, and not regret having done so. The title, "Dissolution," has a dual meaning here, referring both to King Henry VIII's dissolution of the Catholic church in England, and the protagonist's gradual disillusionment with his formerly enthusiastic reformist convictions.

    I respond emotionally to all of the Matthew Shardlake novels: I keep wondering, "How could people have behaved so cruelly? How could people have borne all that filth? Are humans today still that awful? Am I a totally innocent naïf? Why do we keep getting ourselves into these terrible situations?" Yes, C. J. Sansom's novels make you think. I don't know if he meant to conjure this parallel, but throughout my listening to the Matthew Shardlake series, the similarity between Henry VIII's reign over England and Joseph Stalin's rule over Soviet Russia keeps occurring to me, particularly in the careless destruction of art. In "Dissolution," Henry VIII has commanded destruction all religious artifacts, regardless of their artistic merit. All religious gold was melted down for Henry's coffers, and all religious architecture was destroyed. We are given the picture of a totally, spoiled, self-absorbed, self-indulgent monarch imposing his will on his helpless subjects.

    Steven Crossley, the narrator of "Dissolution" and all the subsequent Matthew Shardlake series, does an excellent job. He has a beautiful voice, very good command of accents, and he usually clearly distinguishes the characters from each other. "Dissolution" marks the beginning of the Matthew Shardlake series, so start here. You will want to listen to the subsequent entries in this series.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karen United States 10-01-12
    karen United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2004
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    "So much pain...."

    I bought this book a long time ago but it never seemed to be the right time to listen to it. I'm quite familiar with the time period and the dissolution of the monasteries, so I knew it was going to be a challenging read, so I delayed. Finally, it clicked on by itself when another book concluded, and I didn't move away. That said, this may not have been the best time to listen to it either.

    It's a good book, maybe a great book, but the tale of so much pain and anguish -- mental, physical, spiritual, political -- is just an awful lot to take on with today's world in the shape its in. Today's personal and public pain is different, of course - not many of us will be beheaded or thrown into Newgate for our religious beliefs -- but the spectre of people falling into poverty through no fault of their own, of having their lands taken away, of losing their livelihood and their loved ones echoes across every newspaper. Not much has changed, in that regard. If you're looking for 'uplifting', this isn't the book.

    It is a darn good mystery, however. Lots of twists and turns, and a nice long epilogue at the end to tell you what happened to everyone. I like that. It's also historically accurate -- so far as I know, at least. I kept waiting for some literary license, some reconfiguration of the main events, but there wasn't any. The author gets another big plus for that.

    That said, I was surprised -- and then distressed -- throughout the first half of the book by Shardlake's apparent unquestioning support for Cromwell, whom we now know to have been seriously evil. Not that the forces on the other side were much better, of course, they might have been worse. But such unflagging support based on nothing but personal acquaintance and loyalty seemed naive at best. Interesting how Sansom cleverly turned Brother Guy, the Moorish convert, into the kind of sympathetic character that the hunchback Shardlake never came to be.

    This is another of the times when I wished I belonged to a good book club. I'd love to discuss this book and compare it with Ken Follet's two masterful books, "Pillars of the Earth" and "World without End" -- slightly different time period, of course, but still involved with the monastic life and the villages and people involved with the monasteries. In a nutshell, I'd say that Follet's books were less painful, easier to listen to, but Sansom's book is a far better mystery, with more suspense and tension.

    All that said, I did buy two of Sansom's subsequent novels, "Sovereign" and "Dark Fire". Painful or not, these books are worthy reads, a significant step above just plain thrillers.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Corona, CA, United States 03-01-12
    Larry Corona, CA, United States 03-01-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Playing Outside the Box. Surprisingly Good!"

    I bought this on a whim because it just sounded like it could be interesting. In fact is was utterly fascinating. The idea of a murder mystery at a monastery 500 years ago in the midst of the English Reformation was something just too far out of the box to grasp. But I'm glad I did.

    Sansom takes you on a tour of 16th Century Britain and weaves a masterful tale of murder and intrigue in the backdrop of the religious conflicts between the Roman Church and the emerging Church of England. Politics, Religion, Lust, Greed, Murder and Mystery. A great mix.

    Crossley does a magnificent job of narrating the work. 5 stars all around!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. CARLSBAD, NM, United States 02-18-12
    K. CARLSBAD, NM, United States 02-18-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Give it some time!"

    At first I wasn't sure about this book, but I liked the narrator so I kept listening. I wasn't disappointed. This mystery kept me guessing till the end. It was full of twists and turns and interesting characters. I also enjoied Steven Crossley's narriation which kept me listening.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 07-13-12
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 07-13-12 Member Since 2008
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    "If you like historical mystery, get this series."
    What made the experience of listening to Dissolution the most enjoyable?

    I really believed Matthew Shardlake, the hunchbacked lawyer's, narration. The story is told from his point of view and I totally bought in.


    Have you listened to any of Steven Crossley’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Not that I know of, but his performance was excellent. I could recognize who was speaking by the voices he used even before the text identified the speaker.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm on book four of the series now and I can say the high level of quality has continued.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 02-25-12
    Marie ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 02-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Will definitely listen to more of Shardlake"

    I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. The author is very skilled at weaving the history and culture of the period into the story without inserting long lectures that stop the movement of the story. I liked the main character, Matthew Shardlake, even with his flaws and religious zeal. I hope Brother Guy turns up in a later book, though I agree he sounded Russian rather than Moorish. (I have found the same thing with other narrators trying to do a Middle Eastern accent.)

    I considered giving the book a 5 but it could have done with one less murder. And Shardlake did seem to flounder, accusing almost everyone of murder at some point in the story. There weren't many options left by the end.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Hudson, WI, United States 05-07-12
    Jennifer Hudson, WI, United States 05-07-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Not his best, but good."
    Any additional comments?

    Truth be told, I wasn't thrilled with this book. Like other reviewers I found myself not so much interested in Shardlake but drawn to Brother Guy instead. But... here's the deal, listen to this book to get a feel for Shardlake, where he's coming from and the time period and then listen to the rest of the series. It gets really good. I found I had to time myself listening to the rest of the series to make sure I always had a credit available when I finished one so I could start the next right away. This book is pretty simplistic, but the others bring out Shardlake in a more interesting way and we get intoduced to a great "side kick" and for those of us that like Brother Guy, he stays with us along the ride. So although this book is by far the least interesting in the series, I wouldn't suggest skipping it. And for those of you that didn't like this book, Really, give the next book a try, it's 100% better.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Clarksville, TN, United States 11-21-11
    Deborah Clarksville, TN, United States 11-21-11 Member Since 2002
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    "Not a bad listen"
    What made the experience of listening to Dissolution the most enjoyable?

    I really liked the history of the time of Chromwell from a different standpoint. To hear of how he started and what motivated him. The politics of the time of Henry VIII.


    What about Steven Crossley’s performance did you like?

    I did like the performance overall. I just found the accent he gave Brother Guy wrong. Guy was supposed to be a Moor raised in France but Crssley gave him a more Russian sounding accent. I found it distracting.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was a good listen. I didn't find it awe inspiring but I enjoyed listening.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
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