Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
C.J. Sansom

Photo of C.J. Sansom

C.J. (Christopher John) Sansom was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1952. He attended the University of Birmingham where he received a PhD in History. Prior to becoming a full-time author, Sansom practiced law in Sussex, where he now resides.

What he writes: Most of his historical novels are set in Tudor England and feature Matthew Shardlake, a hunchbacked lawyer who works, in turn, for Thomas Cromwell, Archbishop Cranmer, and finally Henry VIII's last queen, Catherine Parr. According to the Crime Writers Association, “Sansom’s novels stand head and shoulders above most historical crime fiction. The narrative voice is strong and engaging and historical events are brought to life by his exceptional research, which is integrated quietly into the stories. His novels are richly populated with interesting characters and the standard of his writing makes for rewarding reading.”

Sansom’s novels will appeal to readers who enjoy richly detailed historical novels like Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Ellis Peters’ Cadfael series, Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, as well as to fans of the Showtime television series The Tudors.


List of works
Matthew Shardlake series
  Dissolution (2003) Revelation (2009)
  Dark Fire (2005) Heartstone (2011)
  Sovereign (2007)  
Non-series work
  Winter in Madrid (2008)
2005 – Dissolution -- Nominated for Galaxy British Book Award
2005 – Dark Fire – Won Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award
2007 – Sovereign – Shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Award and Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award
2008 – Highly Recommended for Dagger in the Library Award
2010 – Heartstone – Shortlisted for Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award
What the critics say
Regarding Dissolution - "The cold, hard truth about historical mysteries comes down to this: If you can't trust the history, you won't enjoy the mystery. C. J. Sansom, a British lawyer with a Ph.D. in history, [has proven] himself the most trustworthy of authors." - Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times (January 28, 2011)
Regarding Dark Fire - "An intriguing crime novel in which a majestic mastery of historical context and detail provides the background for an engrossing mystery. A twisty plot involves murky politics, a great cast of characters with the action, exploring every level of society and offering an ever-increasing pace." - Crime Writers Association
Regarding Sovereign - "Atmosphere abounds in this marvelously drawn novel." - Brad Hooper, Booklist (March 15, 2007)
Regarding Relevation - "Sansom once again demonstrates his consummate knowledge of Tudor England's politics and culture, and even the sounds and smells of sixteenth-century London's streets. . . . Like its predecessors, this installment in the series is sophisticated entertainment, with an intricately but not confusingly wrought plot." - Brad Hooper, Booklist (February 15, 2009)
Regarding Heartstone - "The heft of this fifth in the Shardlake series may be intimidating, but Sansom's supple and action-packed prose should keep readers engaged. The novel vividly captures the Tudor scene, from its corrupt politics to the stench of its streets and the horror of battle. Historical mystery at its finest." - (Starred Review) Michelle Leber, Booklist (January 1, 2011)
Regarding Winter in Madrid - "[A] completely enveloping novel set in early-1940s Spain… A combination of historical novel and spy thriller, this evocation of a dangerous diplomatic environment, where no one can trust anyone, will have widespread appeal." - Brad Hooper, Booklist (December 1, 2007)


Learn about other Mystery Authors You May Have Missed.