1565. Their last mission on behalf of the Lord Chancellor nearly got them killed. Now back in England, former soldier Matthew Longstaff and his Italian wife, Aurélie, are living quietly in the countryside when news arrives from France; their closest friend has disappeared.
In London, fledgling spy-master Francis Walsingham suspects a traitor on Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council. In France, the physician Gaetan Durant is held at a secret location and forced to produce forgeries which will trigger a war. In Rome, the pope prepares a Bull of Excommunication against Elizabeth. Everything is connected. Trapped in this game of plot and counter-plot, Longstaff must journey to Paris in pursuit of his missing friend – and evidence of the enterprise taking shape against protestant England. Meanwhile in London, Aurélie’s attempts to track down the traitor lead to a lethal battle of wits against London’s most notorious astrologer.
Even if both succeed, it may already be too late. Wild, apocalyptic rumours race ahead of the separated lovers: of a lost Gospel in Christ’s own hand; of heretic queens and caged prophets. Only one thing seems certain – war is coming, an unholy inferno which threatens to consume all Europe…
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Spies, Politics, Sorcerers and Blood
A well-written and ingeniously plotted tale of Elizabethan England and the power struggles at the Court of Gloriana and among her enemies in France. The writer is clearly immersed in the period and although the hero, Longstaff, and his friend Durant survive more brutality than is credible in an age before antibiotics it is satisfying until the very end when things are wrapped up a bit too easily and neatly. No matter, a good read.