What do you know about the Spanish Armada or Queen Elizabeth I?
Ask me about Henry VIII and I can tell you loads including the helpful rhyme for remembering the fate of his six wives, divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived! But his second daughter Elizabeth, well I knew very little apart from she was the Virgin Queen and there was a big battle involving a huge number of Ships, Francis Drake was involved and there were lots of politics. And there is my gripe, I’m not a political person which is why although I love history, and yes probably knew a little bit more than I have stated here, I have never been motivated to learn more about this period.
So why did I choose this book? Well 2014 is the year when I am going to read more widely and so I took a chance!
This book by Rory Clements grabbed me from the start, this isn’t just a book about the endless politics, or the Spanish Armada it is about people, and I love reading about people and the lives they live, their hopes and their fears.
John Shakespeare is an investigator and we meet him investigating the murder a well-connected young woman, the mystery of which he delves into throughout the book. The Setting is Elizabethan England where the likeable John Shakespeare is supposed to be working with the notorious Richard Topcliffe. Shakespeare doesn’t approve of Topcliffe’s vicious methods and there is already bad-blood between the two men. This only increases as they are both chasing the same Jesuit priest around the web of London safe houses.
This is not a book for the squeamish, there is plenty of violence within the pages as I’m sure in such uncertain times this was indeed a reality of life. Within the pages there are whores, a stolen baby, the Queen vacillating whether to order Mary Queen of Scots to death and a determination to stamp out and the Catholics still brave enough to follow their faith in England.
This book is the first in a series of six books (the latest, The Queen’s Men is due to be published in January 2014) I will certainly continue reading as I enjoy a tautly plotted novel with plenty of action and as a bonus it is a fantastic way to learn more about this period of history.
I received a free copy of this book from lovereading.co.uk as I am part of their reader review panel, please use the link to see other reviewers opinions or to read an extract from the book.
Books by Rory Clements
The Heretics (published in paperback February 2014)
The Queen’s Men (published in hardback January 2014)