Dark Fire by C J Sanson
This is the second in C J Sansom's four book Shardlake series, the continuing tales of the medievel lawyer come investigator.
Once again Shardlake is summoned to the service of Cromwell to investigate the possibility of a mysterious substance known as Dark Fire. If this technology was employed by the Crown it would render our navy almost invincible, but the substance and the machine which uses it seems to have disappeared - together with just about everyone who has had anything to do with it.
Is is real?, if so what is it?, what can it do? and who has it? Perhaps most worryingly, who is behind its dissapearance and what does this mean for Cromwell's hold on power which hangs by a rapidly thinning regal thread?.
It's a good and plausible tale which rattles around the streets of a historically accurate London, providing an interesting insight into a period I know little about.
But, as with my previous encounters with Mr Sansom's work, I find the characterisation sadly lacking. I know a lot about Shardlake the man but little about Shardlake the person. Its really frustrating after two books!
So will I read the third and final book? Well yes, probably. Its a bit like Mastermind - I have started so I will finish. Perhaps the most telling fact is that I started this book before we went on the Easter boat trip and it has taken me six weeks to get to the end. Its a decent enough book but only one I would choose if I had nothing else available at the time.
Damnation by faint praise I think.