SHARDLAKE on Hulu is a new murder mystery series with just four episodes. The story is set in the Tudor era at a monastery where our title character must solve the whodunnit mystery. Read our full Shardlake mini-series review here!

SHARDLAKE is a new Hulu mini-series in the drama, thriller, mystery, crime, and history genres. It’s a murder mystery, but this particular whodunnit story plays out during the dissolution of the monasteries in the Tudor era. I really liked the title character as portrayed by Arthur Hughes (The Innocents).

Not only is this the kind of character, who offers more nuance to other characters – due to his own imperfections, in several ways – but he also tries to treat everyone equally. Not normal at this point in time (or any, you may argue), but when working on a murder mystery, it is actually quite necessary in order to not miss out on valuable clues.

Continue reading our Shardlake mini-series review below. All four episodes are on Hulu (and Disney+ internationally) from May 1, 2024.

Welcome to a Whodunnit in the Tudor era

Forget all about fingerprints, lie detectors, or even your average database. In the Tudor era, it’s a lot more about observing and being able to read people: Who is lying or hiding something? Also, who has the motive and ability to commit a murder?!

The four-part series opens with the actual murder and it’s a good old-fashioned beheading. With a sword. In a monastery.

Yeah, it’s a pretty heavy way to open a murder mystery series. However, it also means we’re off to a running start, and with just four episodes, there’s no time to dilly-dally.

This is quite an eerie whodunnit adventure. 16th century England during the dissolution of the monasteries makes for quite an intriguing tapestry. Shardlake has lived a somewhat sheltered life as a lawyer in the city. As someone with an alternative physical appearance, he has always had to rely on his mind and other people.

When Thomas Cromwell (Sean Bean) asks him to investigate the murder of a commissioner at a monastery, he must head for the remote town of Scarnsea. This was where the commissioner was murdered while gathering evidence to close the monastery.

Shardlake is accompanied by Jack Barak (Anthony Boyle), and the duo is met with immediate hostility, suspicion, and paranoia by the monks. Obviously, they fear for their future as the monastery is getting closed. That’s why they will seemingly stop at nothing to preserve their order. Even murder?!

Shardlake – Review | Tudor Whodunnit Murder-Mystery Series

Arthur Hughes is Matthew Shardlake

The all-important title role of Matthew Shardlake is portrayed by Arthur Hughes, and he does an excellent job. We also see him as a younger version in flashbacks, which helps us understand him more. Especially his desire for everyone to be heard and acknowledged.

We also come to learn that he couldn’t become a man of the cloth due to his physical handicap. Of course, this becomes even more ironic when he is then sent to solve a case in a monastery. Not good enough to be welcomed as one of them, but certainly smarter than most of them!

Also in the cast are Babou Ceesay as Abbot Fabian, Paul Kaye as Brother Jerome, Peter Firth as Norfolk, Matthew Steer as Goodhap, Brian Vernel as Brother Mortimus, Irfan Shamji as Brother Guy, David Pearse as Brother Edwig, Miles Barrow as Brother Gabriel, and Mike Noble as Bugge. And finally, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis as Alice and Kimberley Nixon as Joan.

And yes, as we’re mostly in a monastery in a time where the world revolved [even more] around men, it is quite the sausage fest. As made obvious by all the male characters mentioned above and the two (2!) female characters. There are more, but these are the only two mentioned in the press material, which should tell you a lot.

Watch the Shardlake mini-series on Hulu or Disney+ now!

Shardlake is written by Stephen Butchard (The Good Mothers) but based on the novels by C.J. Sansom. This new four-part series is based on the first novel in Sansom’s series, which obviously leaves space for the adaptation of more books later.

The director is Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) and if you’re familiar with the novels – which I am not – I can imagine it will be a treat to watch this Hulu mini-series. The production is gorgeous and the plot is certainly intriguing enough to keep you watching.

While this mini-series is based on a book, changes are often made to update adaptions. Having the point of view of women on a larger scale would be nice. After all, women are always present as wives, daughters, mistresses, housekeepers, etc.

Also, they’re usually the ones with the most information as men will talk when they’re around without paying attention to the wife or help in the background. I just feel like we’ve watched male-focused stories for so long that it would be a nice change to add just a slightly different point of view. But hey, that’s on me and takes nothing away from the quality of this series.

Shardlake is out on Hulu in the US, and Disney+ in other countries, from May 1, 2024. 


Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer: Stephen Butchard
Cast: Arthur Hughes, Anthony Boyle, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, Matthew Steer, Paul Kaye, David Pearse, Babou Ceesay, Irfan Shamji, Miles Barrow, Brian Vernel, Mike Noble, Joe Barber, Sean Bean, Tadhg Murphy, Kimberley Nixon, Peter Firth, Miltos Yerolemou, Alex Bhat, Charlotte Christof


During the dissolution of the monasteries in the Tudor era, Matthew Shardlake is sent by Thomas Cromwell to investigate the death of a commissioner in a remote town of Scarnsea.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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