Sunday, 15 April 2012

Book review: Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom

Dark FireDark Fire by C.J. Sansom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was one hefty book. That was all I thought as I travelled halfway across the country reading it!
I loved Dissolution, the first in the Matthew Shardlake series, and although I didn't always agree with the main characters point of view, I was swept up with the medieval murder mystery and all it's characters. It was a bit like Agatha Christie, in that it was a limited number of suspects, yet a bit like a modern day thriller, where people died dramatically and there was tonnes of tension.
This was a different kind of story. We had two mysteries, one was a young boy's death and his supposed cousin who killed him. The other was Greek Fire, whether it existed and how to make it.
I'll be honest, I don't care about politics, or religion all that much, not when reading a murder mystery anyway, so the whole stuff about Greek Fire and whether Henry VIII was pleased or not with his wife was of no interest to me whatsoever. There were some exciting moments related to this, but I was generally on Guy's side throughout this book. I'll let you read it to find out what his opinions are!
The other murder mystery was good, but rather predictable. There's a young girl who has been imprisoned for murdering her spoilt brat of a cousin and who won't say a word about it. Reading about the different characters within the family are interesting, even if none of them are likeable. I must also add that the wrap up of their storyline is completely ridiculous. It seems like Sansom thought he'd just add that in there along with the fire, the rooftop chase and everything else that happens in the twelve days that Shardlake is investigating both cases.
This brings me nicely to his new assistant Jack Barak. A brilliant name to start with! He's appointed by Cromwell to help Shardlake with his investigations and to keep an eye on him. At first, I was a bit unsure whether I liked him or not. I liked Mark very much from the first book and was hoping he'd come back, but by the end I was smitten.
Sansom does write characters and events very well. There is a physical tension when reading the book and I found myself holding my breath several times as I read. But I was let down by the plot. It won't stop me reading this series though, and I look forward to the next in the series.
Just one added note. C.J. Sansom is obsessed with straight white teeth and mentions that pretty much every character has them. It's annoying and I'd imagine a bit unrealistic for the time period!

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