This is the second time I’ve read this book, a move prompted by two things: firstly, the publication of new volume in the Matthew Shardlake series prompted me to go back to the beginning and read the entire series, and secondly, I was asked to nominate a book for the Parish book club and so chose this one after some consultation.
Perhaps the second reason was the more urgent impetus for reading the book again, given the need to discuss it with a group shortly.
Be that as it may, I thoroughly enjoyed this book again. Set in a time of English history where everything that was seen as normative and stable is undergoing sweeping change, particularly in the area of religion and its heady mixture with the politics of the time, this work brings together not only historical realities but also the messiness of murder most foul. The protagonist is required to navigate the murky waters of religion, murder and politics, searching always for the truth of what has happened while seeking to maintain his own life in the face of the complexity of the political realities of Tudor England.
The novel, however, is not just about murder and the seeking of a killer. It is also about the hugely significant changes that are being forced upon England because of the desire of the king to have what he wants, and of the chief minister to deliver that for his master while also seeking to bring about his own plans for reform to fruition.
Caught in the midst of the machinations of those in power are the ordinary folk, for whom all the things they relied on for stability are slowly being eaten away, dissolving in front of their very eyes.
Dissolution is a wonderfully engaging murder mystery but also a powerful commentary on the England in which it is set.