MARTYR is the first in the acclaimed and bestselling John Shakespeare Elizabethan mystery series by Rory Clements, winner of the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award. 'Does for Elizabeth's reign what CJ Sansom does for Henry VIII's' Sunday Times
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 . . .
Clements can be seen as doing for Elizabeth's reign what CJ Sansom does for Henry VIII's . . . What's impressive in the latest is how much of Tudor society it crams in, from the court and Derby's estate to outlaws and the soldiers in its concluding scene - Sunday Times
There's plenty of thrills . . . the multiple plot elements are well-handled . . . there's much that's enjoyable and Clements' orchestration of the narrative is skillful - www.displacementactivity.co.uk
'The best yet in Rory Clements' magnificent series about John Shakespeare . . . As always, the historical detail is fascinating and sometimes delightfully obscure . . . another sumptuous feast that will leave you sated - but craving for the next helping! - Crimesquad
I found this the best book in the series - Historical Novels Review
Praise for Prince:
'A genuine page turner, and cleverly weaves in real historical events and personalities. Fans will not be disappointed' - Eastern Daily Press
Intriguing . . . wonderfully graphic and descriptive. Clements richly deserves the accolade: "faster moving than C.J. Sansom - Bookbag
Clements' thrilling murder mysteries are a real cut above . . . steeped in authentic 16th-century politics, the plots are complex and clever, and the characters believable and engrossing. But his greatest gift is the ability to bring to life the squalor, intrigue and perils of Tudor London and amidst it all create a superbly tense and entertaining mystery. Roll on Mr Shakespeare's Act IV - Lancashire Evening Post
Blending fact with fiction Clements tells a rip-roaring yarn with vigour and energy and a huge enthusiasm for the period . . . a novel lacking neither action nor spice. An undeniably enjoyable and lively plot that gathers pace and excitement throughout. A devilishly good read - Crime Time
Rory Clements is the award-winning author of the John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers. His six acclaimed novels, Martyr, Revenger, Prince, Traitor, The Heretics and The Queen's Man, follow Elizabeth's Intelligencer, John Shakespeare, brother to the playwright William, through the dark underworld of Tudor England as he unmasks the traitors and conspirators who plot against the Queen. Rory Clements won the Crime Writers' Association Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award in 2010 for Revenger, and has been shortlisted for CWA Awards for Martyr, Prince and The Heretics. A TV series is currently in development. Find out more at www.roryclements.co.uk