In this installment, it is the year 1543 and Matthew Shardlake, the hunchback lawyer, has been promoted to Serjeant in the Court of Requests by Archbishop Cranmer. Cranmer owes Shardlake big-time after the events of the last book and Matthew is quite happy with his life and his work. Unfortunately, Matthew's peaceful existance is interrupted when his dear friend, Roger Elliard, is murdered in a most horrific and public way. Matthew vows to bring the killer to justice but there is much more to the story than Matthew realizes. There is a serial killer on the loose in London and once Matthew begins his investigation, the killer's attention is turned to him. With the help of his assistant Jack Barak and his good friend Dr. Guy Malton, Matthew takes on a case more dangerous than any he has taken on before.
I love this series! The historical aspects of the time are very well done, and I got a great sense of the religious tensions and fear that must have pervaded London and King Henry VIII got nuttier and nuttier. The approach to mental health and descriptions of "the Bedlam" and how it was run were also very interesting. The mystery was very well-done and the chase for the killer was exciting. I was still guessing who the killer really was all the way through!