If you’ve read the first book (‘A Queen’s Spy’) in Ms Burnell’s series ‘The Tudor Mystery Trials’ set in 16th century England, you’ll be familiar with the main characters Jack Fitzwarren and his brother Richard. If you haven’t read the first book, I strongly recommend that you do: this book is a continuation of that story. As the novel opens, Queen Mary is on the throne and her half-sister Princess Elizabeth is next in line to rule, unless Queen Mary has a child. Elizabeth is in danger: Protestant reformers see her as the figurehead of their cause, while Catholic traditionalists would like nothing better than to remove her from the succession.
Richard Fitzwarren has already foiled one attempt to remove Elizabeth from the succession (and been branded a traitor as a consequence). Some of the Protestant reformers believe that Elizabeth would be safer in Europe, but she does not wish to leave England.
At the beginning of the novel, Jack Fitzwarren believes that his brother Richard is dead. He also knows that William Fitzwarren is his father and, armed with proof and acting impulsively, seeks a lawyer’s help. Things do not go well for Jack, and he finds himself in Marshalsea as a debtor. Unless he pays the debt against his name, he’ll be left there to die. Can Jack be saved? By whom, and how?
Ms Burnell has crafted another intricately plotted novel, blending fiction around history. Jack frustrates me at times with his impulsive actions, but the story held my attention from beginning to end. I really enjoyed the new addition to the team: Lizbet, and I’m very curious to see where Ms Burnell takes this story next.
If you enjoy fiction set in Tudor England, you may enjoy this novel. I certainly did.
Meet Richard Fitzwarren - An anti-hero with a dubious past, questionable morals but unswerving loyalties. AVAILABLE ON AUDIBLE.
Richard grinned and grasping his brother's wrist said, “Terrible apart and even worse together – that would make us a fine family moto. Et mirabilia absque peius.”
Jack Fitzwarren, Richard’s displaced bastard brother, seeks a place at his brother’s side. Impulsive and hot headed, his attempts to gain his brother’s acceptance and approval often end badly. Finally the brothers are brought head to head when Richard tries to foil a plot against Elizabeth I.