Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake 2)

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9780330450782: Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake 2)

It's 1540, three years after Shardlake's mission to Scarnsea. It is the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Shardlake is trying to keep a low profile, believing himself to be out of favour with Thomas Cromwell but trying to maintain his London-based legal practice. He has been pulled, against his better judgement, into defending Elizabeth Wentworth, charged with murdering her cousin. But Elizabeth refuses to plead either guilty or not guilty. As a result she will be crushed under weights until she pleads or dies. Shardlake is powerless to help the girl yet she is suddenly granted a reprieve - courtesy of Cromwell. The cost of the reprieve to Shardlake is two weeks once again in the service of Cromwell. Cromwell, however, is no longer the triumphant, irresistible force he once was, not least because of the ill-fated marriage he arranged for the King with Anne of Cleves. Cromwell is running out of options, but he has one more card to play: Greek Fire, an ancient weapon considered lost long ago, which has turned up again in the hands of two alchemist brothers. This is the kind of gift to guarantee the King's favour, it is also the kind of gift that people kill for...

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About the Author:

C.J Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA then a Ph.D. in history. Greek Fire is his second novel, following on from his remarkable debut, Dissolution.

From Publishers Weekly:

Matthew Shardlake, the marvelous hunchbacked 16th-century attorney who first appeared in Sansom's Dissolution, returns in this spellbinding Tudor-era tale of murder, conspiracy and betrayal. Shardlake normally handles property cases and the occasional dangerous mission for Lord Thomas Cromwell, the king's high counselor. Now he is engaged to defend a young woman accused of a curious murder, and the case seems hopeless. The girl refuses to speak and, under English law, unless she offers a plea in court she will be slowly crushed to death. Cromwell offers Shardlake a two-week stay of execution if he will agree to undertake a secret mission. Desperate to save the girl's life, Shardlake agrees. Rumors abound of a new and terrifying weapon called Greek Fire, and Cromwell orders Shardlake to find it, along with its secret formula and the two alchemists who possess it. Before Shardlake can even speak to the alchemists, they are brutally murdered, the formula and Greek Fire go missing, and horror and death are unleashed. Fortunately, Shardlake is aided by Jack Barak, a capable rogue working for Cromwell, and his old friend, Guy Malton, a peculiar apothecary. Sansom's vivid portrayal of squalid, stinking, bustling London; the city's wealth and poverty; the brutality and righteousness of religious persecution; and the complexities of English law make this a suspenseful, colorful and compelling tale.
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Sansom C. J.
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