Sansom’s Tudor thrillers are too tempting to stay away from and Dark Fire [London: Macmillan, 2003] lives up to expectations, indeed goes beyond them. Sansom skilfully interweaves the political and private lives of the 1540s with the imagined rediscovery of dark fire, otherwise known as Greek fire, and the sort of heart-stopping and bloody adventures that the hero, Matthew Shardlake, seems to stumble into in every chapter. Readers in this century are inevitably reminded of weapons of mass destruction and the question of whether or not they exist.
Revelation [London: Macmillan, 2008] is a revelation: Sansom’s fourth novel in his Shardlake series of Tudor detective thrillers was my eye-opener to the series in which Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer in mid-16th century London, battles through blood, poisoning, stabbing, flame and explosion to solve the mystery of who is the perpetrator of a series of horrendous murders. Crime novel readers could hardly ask for more. The pressure and tension are never lifted and seem to grow with each succeeding chapter.
Having just come from seeing The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Chichester Minerva Theatre and been bowled over, I am very tempted to go and see SplitMoon's production of a young Brecht's play, In the Jungle of the Cities which will be playing at the Arcola Theatre from today (18 September) directed by Peter Sturm.
When, as a teenager, I went up to my father’s studio, carrying a cup of coffee for him and a copy of The Observer for me, I set down the coffee and paused for a moment to look beyond the headline that had caught my attention. My father asked me to hold the pose and I eventually stood there for a couple of hours in my pyjamas and dressing gown. The headline is long forgotten but there is a permanent record of the moment, a rear-view portrait of the artist’s son, which now hangs in his grandson’s house.