Lamentation is another installment in the excellent historical mystery series about Matthew Shardlake, a London lawyer who finds himself unwillingly drawn into the webs of intrigue that encircle the court of Henry VIII. The setting for this latest Shardlake novel is the final months of Henry’s reign. The ailing king’s ever-shifting religious views have swung more to the Catholic side, sparking fears among Protestant reformers that he might even be willing to consider bringing England back under the wing of the Roman church. In this suspicious atmosphere, even Henry’s last queen, the deeply Protestant Katherine Parr, is under suspicion, and Shardlake’s respect for the queen brings him back into the dangerous world of court.
The premise of the novel is that a manuscript called Lamentations of a Sinner — a Protestant religious tract that Katherine Parr actually did write, though it was not published until after Henry’s death — has gone missing, and those close to the queen suspect it may have been stolen by enemies who plan to discredit her. As previous queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard could have testified if they still had heads to testify with, being “discredited” as one of Henry’s wives meant almost certain death, so the stakes are high as Shardlake sets out to find the missing manuscript, and uncovers a murder that spawns several more murders. This is one of the best historical mystery series I’ve ever read, and if you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you’ll like.