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The first three books of the bestselling John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers from Rory Clements, author of the Sunday Times bestseller Hitler's Secret *** Martyr England is close to war. Within days the axe could fall on the neck of Mary Queen of Scots, and Spain is already gathering a battle fleet to avenge her. Tensions in Elizabeth I's government are at breaking point. At the eye of the storm is John Shakespeare, chief intelligencer in the secret service of Sir Francis Walsingh…
The first three books of the bestselling John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers from Rory Clements, author of the Sunday Times bestseller Hitler's Secret *** Martyr England is close to war. Within days the axe could fall on the neck of Mary Queen of Scots, and Spain is already gathering a battle fleet to avenge her. Tensions in Elizabeth I's government are at breaking point. At the eye of the storm is John Shakespeare, chief intelligencer in the secret service of Sir Francis Walsingham. When an intercept reveals a plot to assassinate England's 'sea dragon', Francis Drake, Shakespeare is ordered to protect him. With Drake on land fitting out his ships, he is frighteningly vulnerable. If he dies, England will be open to invasion. In a London rife with rumour, Shakespeare must decide which leads to follow, which to ignore. When a high-born young woman is found mutilated and murdered at an illicit printing house, it is political gunpowder - and he has no option but to investigate. But why is Shakespeare shadowed at every turn by the brutal Richard Topcliffe, the blood-drenched priest-hunter who claims intimacy with Queen Elizabeth herself? What is Topcliffe's interest in a housemaid, whose baby has been stolen? And where do two fugitive Jesuit priests fit into the puzzle, one happy to die for God, the other to kill for Him? From the splendour and intrigue of the royal court, to the sleek warships of Her Majesty's Navy and the teeming brothels of Southwark, Shakespeare soon learns that nothing is as it seems . . . Revenger 1592. England and Spain are at war, yet there is peril at home, too. The death of her trusted spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham has left Queen Elizabeth vulnerable. Conspiracies multiply. The quiet life of John Shakespeare is shattered by a summons from Robert Cecil, the cold but deadly young statesman who dominated the last years of the Queen's long reign, insisting Shakespeare re-enter government service. His mission: to find vital papers, now in the possession of the Earl of Essex. Essex is the brightest star in the firmament, a man of ambition. He woos the Queen, thirty-three years his senior, as if she were a girl his age. She is flattered by him - despite her loathing for his mother, the beautiful, dangerous Lettice Knollys who presides over her own glittering court - a dazzling array of the mad, bad, dangerous and disaffected. When John Shakespeare infiltrates this dissolute world he discovers not only that the Queen herself is in danger - but that he and his family is also a target. With only his loyal footsoldier Boltfoot Cooper at his side, Shakespeare must face implacable forces who believe themselves above the law: men and women who kill without compunction. And in a world of shifting allegiances, just how far he can trust Robert Cecil, his devious new master? Prince Spring 1593. England is a powder keg of rumour and fear. Plague rages, famine is rife, the ageing Queen's couriers scheme: Elizabeth's Golden Age is truly tarnished. Meanwhile Spain watches and waits - and plots. Into this turmoil a small cart clatters through the streets of London, carrying a deadly load. It is the first in a wave of horrific bombing attacks on the Dutch immigrant community that will change John Shakespeare's life for ever. Driven on by cold rage, Shakespeare's investigations will take him from magnificent royal horseraces to the opulent chambers of Black Luce's brothel, from the theatrical underworld of Marlowe and Kyd to the pain-wracked torture cells of priest-hunter Richard Topcliffe, and from the elegant offices of master tactician Robert Cecil to the splintering timbers of an explosive encounter at sea. As Shakespeare delves ever deeper, he uncovers intricate layers of mystery and deception that threaten the heart not only of the realm, but of all that he holds dear.