Dissolution

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1)Dissolution by C.J. Sansom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very promising start to an interesting series. Loved the characters, good and bad, lots of period detail, more than just a mystery. Matthew is a hunchback which gives us a unique viewpoint as he wrestles with both his infirmity and his conscience. While I loved all the detail, back story, and fully developed side characters, it did make it a bit slow to get into the actual solving of the mystery. Everything happened in the last two discs (of 12). I look forward to more.

Book description: The year is 1537, and the country is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the king and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered in a monastery on the south coast of England, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s feared vicar general, summons fellow reformer Matthew Shardlake to lead the inquiry. Shardlake and his young protege uncover evidence of sexual misconduct, embezzlement, and treason, and when two other murders are revealed, they must move quickly to prevent the killer from striking again.
Narrated by Steven Crossley.

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State of Wonder

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 stars, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder why? It was okay – exotic setting, some interesting characters, some moral dilemmas, and basically well-written prose, but on the whole I was really underwhelmed by this novel. Her depiction of Minnesota had me wondering what century she was writing about. She kept extolling the “prairie” as the characters drive from the Twin Cities airport to Eden Prairie. Huh? I drive there quite regularly and it is not even remotely rural. Her depiction of the Amazon was evocative, though I can’t judge her accuracy. The science was extremely dodgy, I didn’t care about any of the characters, despite this being a book about a great adventure, nothing happened. The characters don’t grow, they don’t make any better choices at the end of the book, and I had guessed the end of the book. There was nothing that even remotely elicited a “state of wonder” for this reader. I still want to read Bel Canto, but except for that, I would not be reading any more by this author.

Description: Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug. Not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina’s research partner, has been reported as dead of a fever. Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend’s death, the state of her company’s research, and her own past.