I’ve been lucky enough to read two fantastic brand new crime fiction novels in the last couple of months – the latest in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith Lethal White (see also my blogs on Career of Evil and Robert Galbraith) and the latest in the Shardlake series (see my blog on my addiction to crime fiction) by CJ Sansom Tombland. They were both un-put-downable and were a lovely way to switch my work brain off before going to sleep.
Lethal White keeps the fledgling romance between Robin and Cormoran dangling for the whole book before we finally get somewhere (spoiler alert) as Robin finally sees sense and ditches her awful husband Matthew. Thank goodness for that. Whilst the undercurrents of their feelings for each other are swirling around, Cormoran and Robin manage to solve a fascinating case, set in London in 2012, involving government Ministers, kidnapped anti-Olympic protesters, and a troubling history of a country house and a possible child murder. It all comes together beautifully at the end of the book when the meaning of the book’s title is finally revealed, and Robin escapes death, again. Being Strike’s assistant is not good for life expectancy, but you can see why Robin is hooked.
The brilliant Shardlake series just gets better and better as the lawyer sleuth continues to navigate the dangerous court politics of Tudor England, whilst solving crime and being on the side of social, economic and criminal justice for the poor. This time Shardlake gets caught up in Kett’s Rebellion of 1549. I knew absolutely nothing about this fascinating episode in our history, and it’s a history that is carefully articulated in an essay that comes at the end of the book after the novel itself concludes. The hot summer of 1549 in Norwich is the setting for Shardlake to save a relative of the Lady Elizabeth, the future Queen, from hanging for his wife’s brutal murder. But as a rich London lawyer Shardlake and his assistant are not welcome in Norfolk on the brink of rebellion, a rebellion Shardlake himself is sympathetic to. He becomes swept up in events and finds himself camped on Mousehold Heath watching as negotiations between Kett and his followers and the Lord Protector fail and battle becomes inevitable. The interweaving of the history with the fictional crime solving is brilliantly done and it is only frustrating to now have to wait for the next book in the series.