Dissolution (Sansom novel)

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Dissolution (Sansom).jpg
First Edition cover
Author C. J. Sansom
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Matthew Shardlake Series
Genre Historical mystery
Publisher Viking Books
Publication date
April 2003
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 400 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 978-0-670-03203-7 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 52041174
823/.92 21
LC Class PR6119.A57 D57 2003
Followed by Dark Fire

Dissolution (2003) is a historical mystery novel by British author C. J. Sansom. It is Sansom's first published novel, and the first in the Matthew Shardlake Series. It was dramatised by BBC Radio 4 in 2012.[1]


Set in the 16th century during the dissolution of the monasteries, the book follows the lawyer Shardlake in his attempts to solve the murder of one of Thomas Cromwell's commissioners in the monastery at Scarnsea on the south coast of England.


Dissolution has been well received by critics, fellow crime writers and the public alike, although there has been some criticism of the language and detail in the writing.[2] "The best crime novel I have read this year" – Colin Dexter;[3] "Remarkable...the sights, the voices, the very smell of this turbulent age seem to rise from the page" – P. D. James;[4] "This is a humdinger of a whodunnit. Read it!" – Colin Dexter;[4] "This is historical fiction at its finest." – Peter Robinson.[5] The US Library Journal review is more critical, commenting: "His novel is unrelentingly grim in tone, as the reader is forced to plod along with Shardlake and the other mostly unlikable characters. Although the novel can be superficially compared with the historical mysteries of Iain Pears and Umberto Eco, their caliber of writing is much higher than Sansom's."[6]

Dissolution was nominated for the 2003 Crime Writers' Association (CWA) John Creasey Memorial Dagger, for first books by previously unpublished writers. It was also nominated for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger in the same year.[7]

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ Dissolution dramatised by BBC Radio 4
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2007-08-06. Book Review: Dark Fire - Blogcritics Magazine book review of Dark Fire, but which refers to Dissolution.
  3. ^ Pan Macmillan Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. page for Dissolution.
  4. ^ a b Dissolution - critical praise at Reading Group Guides.
  5. ^ Dissolution, Barnes & Noble
  6. ^ Freelists.org entry for Dissolution.
  7. ^ 2003 CWA Dagger Awards