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As Henry VIII lies on his deathbed, an incendiary manuscript threatens to tear his court apart.

Summer, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councilors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government. As heretics are hunted across London, and radical Protestants are burned at the stake, the Catholic party focuses its attack on Henry’s sixth wife — and Matthew Shardlake’s old mentor — Queen Catherine Parr.

Shardlake, still haunted by his narrow escape from death the year before, steps into action when the beleaguered and desperate Queen summons him to Whitehall Palace to help her recover a dangerous manuscript. The Queen has authored a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King’s attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. Although the secret book was kept hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen’s private chamber, it has inexplicably vanished. Only one page has been recovered — clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.

Shardlake’s investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London, but leads him and his trusty assistant Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of court politics, a world Shardlake swore never to enter again. In this crucible of power and ambition, Protestant friends can be as dangerous as Catholic enemies, and those with shifting allegiances can be the most dangerous of all.

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"Utterly convincing. Historical fiction has long languished in the doldrums, despised by critics as an inferior genre. Those days are past...a fine example of the intelligent imagination playing on history [that] shows what the reader of history may often tend to forget: that events now safely in the past were once uncertainly and dangerously in the future."—Alan Massie, Wall Street Journal
"Everything works in Sansom's superb sixth Matthew Shardlake novel: the murder mystery with grave political ramifications, the depiction of Tudor England, and the further development of a lead who's both courageous and flawed... Rich period details burnish Sansom's status as one of today's top historical writers."—Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)
"The best Shardlake yet."—Amanda Craig, The Independent
"Brilliantly sketched [with] Shakespearean characterization and Byzantine plotting: Amid all the stink and muck of Tudor London, Sansom offers a master class in royal intrigue."—Kirkus Reviews
"Sansom conjures the atmosphere, costumes and smells of Tudor London with vigour, from the gilded halls of Whitehall Palace to the dungeons of the Tower...LAMENTATION builds to a shocking climax."—Stephanie Merrit, The Guardian
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Matthew Shardlake #6

The Shardlake Series