C.J. Sansom, bestselling British author of Tudor crime thriller series, dies at 71

LONDON (AP) — British author C.J. Sansom, best known for his historical crime novels featuring the Tudor lawyer and investigator Matthew Shardlake, has died, his publisher said Monday. He was 71.

Pan Macmillan said Christopher John Sansom was working on his latest Shardlake novel, “Ratcliff,” when he died Saturday after a period of worsening health.

Sansom introduced the character of Shardlake in his first novel, “Dissolution,” a murder mystery set in Tudor England in the 16th century. The title referred to King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Published in 2003, the book's combination of intriguing detective story and convincing historical details won Sansom critical acclaim and many fans, and he went on to release six more novels featuring Shardlake.

“Dissolution” has been adapted into a Disney+ series, and the show, starring actors Sean Bean and Arthur Hughes, is set to be released on Wednesday.

Sansom also penned two standalone historical thrillers, “Winter in Madrid” and “Dominion.” Over 3 million copies of his books are in print, his publisher said.

“An intensely private person, Chris wished from the very start only to be published quietly and without fanfare," his editor and publisher, Maria Rejt, said. “But he always took immense pleasure in the public’s enthusiastic responses to his novels and worked tirelessly on each book, never wanting to disappoint a single reader."

Sansom was born in 1952 in Edinburgh. He had a doctorate in history and trained as a solicitor before becoming a full-time writer.

In 2022 he won the Crime Writers' Association's Diamond Dagger Award for his outstanding contribution to the genre. The association called him the “modern master of the historical thriller, regardless of periods.”