Rory Clements is a real find – his first book, Martyr, was good – this second installment equally promising. Set in Elizabethan England, it uses characters which could have existed alongside those which actually did, creating a seamless picture of a world which could well have existed.
In Clement’s sixteenth century world; William Shakespeare had a brother who worked as an intelligencer and is married to a Roman Catholic. Now trying to make a living running a small school; John Shakespeare is called back to his original work by the Earl of Essex; only to become a double agent working for Cecil.
Caught up in a deadly battle for supremacy between Robert Cecil and Essex; Shakespeare seeks to keep alive among a nobility which will use any means possible in its drive for power. At stake is the monarchy itself.
Elizabeth is elderly and has no obvious heir. Essex is seeking a clandestine marriage with Arbella Stuart – one of the candidates for the throne. Cecil is trying to prevent it. Dead bodies start piling up – who is killing who? Just who is McGunn and why does he have such a hold over Essex? And what of Eleanor Dare?
Essex wants her found but why? Has she really returned from Walter Raleigh’s disastrous attempt at colonizing the Americas? So many questions and there is little time for Shakespeare to discover the answers. A fast paced book, with a good convoluted plot, which makes a really satisfying read.
Perfect for anyone who likes history mysteries – I look forward to reading more books in this series.