An Elizabethan spy chases a double agent across Europe in this historical mystery series debut—“Think James Bond for the 17th-century crowd” (Library Journal).
At the dawn of the seventeenth century, England continues to be entangled in wars with Spain and Ireland for many years. The country crackles with unease in the waning years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, and intelligencer Martin Marbeck has just received a vital message from his spymaster, Sir Robert Cecil: the existence of a spy has been discovered, a double agent code named Morera.
A master of disguise and fluent in the argot of secrets and lies, Marbeck must uncover the true identity of this traitor quickly, while evading dangerous Spanish spies, before rumors of the young King Philip III forming a new Armada prove themselves to be true.
“A gripping, entertaining page-turner.” —Booklist, starred review
“[Pilkington’s] Tudor-era spy novel oozes intrigue and dramatically captures the unsettled mood of the times.” —Library Journal
“Pilkington introduces an intriguing new hero in the dashing Marbeck in an eventful tale packed with the usual Elizabethan minutiae.” —Kirkus Reviews
Pilkington, best known for his Thomas the Falconer mysteries (The Muscovy Chain, etc.), launches a new Elizabethan historical series with this promising novel introducing spy Martin Marbeck. After a botched mission overseas that left a colleague captive, Marbeck is charged by his spymaster, Sir Robert Cecil, the queen's secretary of state, to identify the mole within English intelligence who's working for the Spanish. The mole hunt focuses first on two men Cecil suspects, but Marbeck's initial inquiries point elsewhere, and the trail soon takes him across the channel to France. The murder of one of the two original suspects offers another wrinkle in his search. Rory Clements, Karen Harper, Fiona Buckley, and others have swelled the number of Elizabethan whodunits of late. Pilkington's brisk pacing and gift at descriptions will make this a welcome addition to their ranks, even if the plotting and characterizations aren't as sophisticated as the best in the subgenre.