4 Books Like C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake Series

ad In one of my first ever posts for this blog, I wrote about how much I loved author C.J. Sansom and his Shardlake series. In fact, he’s probably my top historical fiction author EVER! I recommend his books to everyone – but what happens when you finish them all? What else can you read? Are you too looking for books like the Shardlake series?

The Shardlake Series

The Shardlake series is an enthralling series of historical mystery novels set in Tudor England. There are seven books in total. The series starts with the first book Dissolution, set in the reign of Henry VIII and ends with Tombland, which was released in 2018.

The titular main character of the series is Matthew Shardlake, a hunchbacked lawyer, who despite his best efforts always seems to end up at the centre of courtly affairs and mysterious murders. Sansom positions Shardlake at the centre of the Tudor world. He works for well known historical figures such as Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, Katherine Parr and even the future Elizabeth I.

There are many reasons the Shardlake series of books is so popular. One of them is the amount of intricate historical details the books contain – you can tell the author has a PhD in history! And he’s not afraid to shy away from the more darker, realistic aspects of early modern life. Combined with almost magical story telling skills, the Shardlake series is a must-read for any historical fiction lover.

Books Like The Shardlake Series
  • The Giordano Bruno Series by S.J. Parris

In 2010, S.J. Parris (real name Stephanie Jane Meritt) published Heresy, the first novel in a series of historical thrillers that came to be known as the Giordano Bruno series. There are now seven novels in the series, as well as a collection of novellas. The books are set a little later than the Shardlake series in the reign of Elizabeth I. The main protagonist is an ex-monk and spy – exciting!

There is no doubt Meritt is a great historical fiction writer. Out of all the historical series on this list, the Giordano Bruno series would be my top recommendation for someone looking for books similar to the Shardlake series.

  • The John Shakespeare Series by Rory Clements

The John Shakespeare Series is another Tudor spy thriller set during the reign of Elizabeth I – very similar to the Giordano Bruno Series. If you like S.J. Parris and C.J. Sansom, you will definitely like Rory Clements.

Rory Clements began his John Shakespeare series in 2009 with the novel Martyr. The last book of the series (so far) was Holy Spy, released in 2015, all about Catholic plots and Mary Queen of Scots.

  • The John Dee Series by Phil Rickman

Another personal favourite of mine, the John Dee series by Phil Rickman is a small series consisting of only two books, but I love it all the same.

All the Tudor court are here, but the main character is of course John Dee, the famous Welsh mathematician, astrologer, occultist and alchemist who advised Elizabeth I on her coronation date. But in these books he turns his hand to solving murder mysteries. So if you like your historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural, this is the book series for you!

  • The Chronicles of Matthew Bartholomew Series by Susanna Gregory

The only historical fiction series on this list NOT set in Tudor England, the Matthew Bartholomew Series is just too good not to include! The author Susanna Gregory is a prolific writer of detective fiction, so she really knows what she is doing. The Matthew Bartholomew series is among her most lauded works.

Matthew Bartholomew is a teacher of medicine and investigator of murders in 14th century Cambridge. While the action may be set two centuries earlier than that in the Shardlake series, Gregory’s approach is very similar to that of Sansom in that she does not shy away from portraying the darker, realistic aspects of medieval life.

If you’re like me and can’t wait to get your hands on these books, why not sign up for kindle now and download them straight away?

Do you have any other recommendations for books like the Shardlake series? Let us know in the comments below.

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interest Cover Books Like The Shardlake Series

Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. However, all love of historical fiction detective series is my own!


  1. Noah says

    Thanks for the advice!

    I only knew S.J. Parris from her Giordano Bruno series, and C.J. Sansom of course. It’s always nice to get to know other authors by reading a book about one’s favourite theme.

    A little typo (I assume) in “Susannah Gregory”, it’s “Susanna”.

  2. Jolanda Lichthart says

    Although not set in Tudor times, but in the time of the Common Wealth, before the Restoration of Charles II, I highly recommend the Damian Seeker series. The protagonist of the book somewhat reminds me of Matthew Shardlake, as does the tone of the book. Combined with exciting, nail biting inducing plots, they make for excellent substitutes if you’re in desperate need of some historic detective fiction.

  3. dominique says

    I live in France and it is very limited how to find books. Thank you very much for your site. A real life line.
    Kind regards

  4. Janet Marquet says

    I love history, particularly historical fiction. I live in the lower South Island of New Zealand. While we do not have the same extent and volume of history that can be found in Britain, New Zealand was settled by numerous nationalities from throughout Europe. Rather than a history built on conquest, New Zealand is a country where each cultural group have become woven into the fabric of our country.

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