Just looking at my review of the previous Shardlake novel
and I see I made an accurate prediction to aka_kelly
in the comments, that C.J. Sansom would want to set one more book in Henry VIIIs era before skipping ahead to Bloody Mary and I was right - Heartstone
does indeed develop on the relationship with Catherine Parr, now queen, set up in Revelation
. She's who Shardlake is now working for as he's sent off to the South of England to investigate a very cryptic message about a child being mistreated in an unspecified way. The background is the failed invasion attempt by the French at the end of Henry's reign and the sinking of the Mary Rose; the book's tagline is "Shardlake goes to war" but although this is the case I found the mystery at the Priory, and Shardlake's adjacent quest on a personal matter (again rising out of the previous book and his visits to Bedlam) the best parts - it's like a country house mystery thrown into the 16th Century and it makes for an interesting mix. In an afterword Sansom points out Henry VIII died 6 months after these fictionalised events so I guess the sixth book will
have a new monarch in charge, probably at least one set during the Edward VI regency before skipping ahead to Mary. The fifth novel also sees Shardlake briefly meeting the future Elizabeth I so there may be long-term plans in store; although I do wonder how long Sansom intends to let an already middle-aged hunchback in the Tudor period live for? This was another one I read on the Kindle and I have to admit it's nice, knowing how big the actual paper version of the book is, not having to lug that around with me for the last couple of weeks.