This is the 5th and the latest of Brother Shardlake’s Tales and by saying that I almost imply that it is good and enjoyable reading – something you read to take those bleak winter thoughts out of your mind and it definitely works. However, this one leaves you with a sort of bitter aftertaste – something a bit uncomfortable lingering on.
It does not have much of the religious and political intricacies that make Dissolution great, nor the compulsive frenetic rhythm of Revelations that would make for a fantastic Hollywood thriller. What it does do, however, is to allow for subtle layers of psychological reading. There are more complicated relationships among characters here and Shardlake reveals himself as a more reflective and self-questioning individual.
There are serious philosophical and ethical questions behind the murder stories – something that leaves Shardlake and you, as a reader, questioning where should we draw the line between justice and compromise, between righteousness and compassion. Above all, it makes you think of the consequences of your acts and how sometimes it is plain obvious that indeed ‘the road to hell is full of good intentions.’
Sansom, C.J (2010) Heartstone. London: Mantle.