Once again Lord Westfield's Men (The Silent Woman, 1994, etc.), an acting company in Elizabethan England, faces a tide of woe. This time, their playwright Edmund Hoode has gone stale, and though the works they put on (at the Queen's Head Inn, their venue in London) still draw a crowd, Nicholas Bracewell, the company's ever-resourceful director, is worried. A new play handed him by stranger Simon Chaloner seems the answer to his prayers. It deals, vibrantly, with the real-life murder of Thomas Brinklow, a prominent Greenwich engineer-scientist. Brinklow's wife and her longtime lover were found guilty of hiring thugs Freshwell and Maggs to do the killing. Maggs eluded capture; the other three were hanged. Now the play, whose author Chaloner refuses to name, throws a different light on the crime and all but names the true killera man well known in the exalted social circles of the Queen's Palace in Greenwich. A meeting with Brinklow's still-grieving sister, Emilia, who's engaged to Chaloner, convinces Nicholas to go ahead. The immediate consequence to him is a vicious beating, and matters grow much grimmermatters involving treacheries both large and small, murder, and treasonbefore the company emerges triumphant. The author's mastery of plot, atmosphere, and character is at its peak here: a powerhouse from start to finish.