C.J. Sansom's latest installment of the Matthew Shardlake series takes readers once again to the streets of Tudor England. In Revelation
, hunchbacked Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and detective, has been called to represent mad Adam Kite, a young man who cannot stop praying. In this world of religious volatility, where Catholics and Protestants vie for superiority, religious conspicuousness is inadvisable. Young Kite's madness has gained too much attention, and he has been confined to the Bedlam, the keeping place for the insane in Tudor London. At the same time, a religious fanatic is on the loose, killing people around London. Matthew is drawn deep into the religious chaos threatening the peace of the city -- chaos that may or may not involve the disturbed Adam Kite.
Against this perfectly created historical backdrop, the hunchbacked Matthew Shardlake investigates the...
Beyond the Book
The Bedlam Hospital that appears in Revelation
is no figment of the authors imagination. It is fashioned after what is perhaps the oldest hospital for the mentally ill in the Western world, Bethlem Hospital in London. Bethlem has also gone by the name Bedlam, the root of the modern English word bedlam
, meaning "uproarious confusion." Open at first to small groups of patients in the 1300s, Bethlem hospital was long the only hospital in Britain for the mentally ill. The wealthy families who could afford to have patients confined and "treated" unwittingly (or wittingly) subjected their loved ones to cruel and inhumane conditions.
In the 17th...