The second of a four book historical fiction, crime series based in the tudor period. Once again the man character is Matthew Shardlake, a London lawyer who is dragged into a mysterious adventure which turns out, once again, to put his life in danger. The sub-plot in this book is Thomas Cromwell and his impending down-fall. While the story revolving around Shardlake, the main character, is fiction, the sub-plot is based in history. 1540 was when Thomas Comwell’s influence began to wane, and with the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleaves failing, Cromwell feared that he would soon fall. Samson writes this thriller with skill. You are taken to London in the 16th century and in the midst of the excellent story telling in the riches of the descriptions of tudor England and its struggles between the Catholic and Protestant faiths. Samson weaves in the tension and problems which had occured after the dissolution of the monasteries, and the political infighting between Cromwell, Richard Rich and the Duke of Norfolk. Excellent novel. Great read.