PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 August, 2009, 12:00am

by C.J. Sansom
Macmillan HK$114

C.J. Sansom is the new big name in the surprisingly overcrowded world of historical thrillers. Doors were opened by his stand-alone best-seller, Winter in Madrid, but it is his mysteries set during the reign of Henry VIII that have allowed Sansom to storm the ramparts. Revelation follows in the footsteps of the ominous-sounding Dissolution, Dark Fire and Sovereign. All star Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer who not only follows his hunches but owing to a deformed spinal column has his hunch follow him. Having solved murders touching on religious schism, black magic, politics and the suppression of rebellions in the north, Shardlake is now asked to investigate a serial killer cutting a literal swathe. After his last brush with Henry's factious court he is reluctant to re-enter the fray, but when he is approached by the widow of an old friend, Roger Elliard, who has been found with his throat slashed, Shardlake finds he can't sayeth nay. Sansom writes with verve, whether it is evoking 16th-century London, the barbaric Bedlam asylum or the tenuous tightrope one walks between Henry and his rivals. This is savage stuff, but wonderfully enjoyable.