"BRING UP THE BODIES." By Hilary Mantel. Henry Holt. $28.
Readers new to British author Hilary Mantel's work through her 2009 novel "Wolf Hall" were introduced to a writer who can turn the oldest of stories into a spellbinding tale. What schoolchild doesn't know the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives? Especially wife number two, the doomed schemer Anne Boleyn? But reading "Wolf Hall," knowing the outcome didn't mean a thing -- Mantel's story of Henry's early reign, told through his right-hand-man, chief fixer and henchman Thomas Cromwell, lit up the early 16th century in such a way that for this reader, it was a rude shock to pause and realize that the early 21st was right outside the window.