"I have little doubt that you too will be utterly engrossed and captivated into this book; it is a genuinely wonderful achievemnt."
In this fifth book of the series, Shardlake has lost his housekeeper, Joan, to influenza and her replacement , Steward Gridiron , is not a success. Dorothy, the widow of his good friend, Roger Elliard, has left London, leaving Shardlake missing their close friendship. The French, taking advantage of Henry’s unpopularity in Europe, are threatening to invade.
When Shardlake is summoned to Hampton Court by the Queen, Catherine Parr, he is given the task of investigating the apparent suicide of Michael, the son of one of the Queen’s old servants. This takes him to a manor close to Portsmouth where the French invasion fleet are rumoured to intend to land. At the same time he has a private investigation of his own involving the estate of a woman locked up in Bedlam who believes herself in love with him. He takes with him Jack Barak, who is avoiding being recruited into the King’s army by travelling on official court business.
Against the background of an England anxious about the future and still with underlying tensions on religious matters, Shardlake uses his considerable intellect and knowledge of people to find the truth about Michael’s death. This leads him into a web of deceit and lies, all revolving about money. The incarceration of Ellen in Bedlam is also not straightforward and involves those at the heart of power in Henry’s England. Danger is very close to Shardlake.