I assume that World Book Night 2011 was the first of it's kind. I've certainly not heard of it before. See: http://www.worldbooknight.org/
The idea was that people volunteered to distribute one of the twenty five book titles listed amongst their friends. Being a little careful and not reading the rules properly, I didn't volunteer for this as I thought that I would have to buy the books myself and circulate those! Mmmmm!!!! The list included several books I've previously read: Killing Floor, by Lee Child (I've read all his books), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Other titles listed, which I'd started but couldn't get into (or have forgotten reading) are: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Toast by Nigel Slater and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
I suspect that any readers versed in the doings of Inspector Morse and his sidekick Lewis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inspector_Morse) will recognise the set-up straight away: older detective type, assisted by younger, often mistaken/outspoken type (I never watched Morse above a couple of times, so apologies if I got that wrong). Couple this set-up with a Cadfael-like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadfael setting (although some century's later) and you're ready to go.
Set during the period following Anne Bolyn's execution Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer, is sent by the powerful Thomas Cromwell, vicar general (who Henry VIII later had executed for finding him an ugly wife?), to solve a murder at an Abbey some way away from London on the south coast.
I enjoyed reading the book although it took me some time to get into the unusual set-up and setting. The Morse - Lewis thing doesn't hold out, but you'll have to read it to find out. Would I read it again? - no. Would I read the follow-up book? - probably.