A tantalizing investigation into the killing of Christopher Marlowe brings to a dazzling, somber conclusion Garrett's trio of Elizabethan novels begun with Death of the Fox (1971) and The Succession (1983). Four years after Marlowe's death in a tavern brawl in 1593, two men are approached by two different, but equally shadowy, figures who want to find out the truth about the murder. It's a matter of public record that the poet was stabbed to death by one Ingram Frizer, acquitted of criminal charges on a plea of self-defense. But was the killing deliberately choreographed by unseen powers for a more sinister reason--a reason having to do, for example, with Marlowe's professional rivalries, his notorious private life, or his outspoken (and illegal) atheism? As seedy, boastful traveling actor Joseph Hunnyman and reflective, fiercely scarred veteran William Barfoot pursue their very different lines of inquiry, neither can imagine how their lives will be entwined by Hunnyman's paramour--the wealthy, scheming widow Alysoun, whose decision to print copies of a flagrantly seditious Papist broadside puts her at the center of the action. Over and behind Hunnyman, Barfoot, and Alysoun stands Garrett's finest creation--a storyteller whose worldliness, mordant irony, and cunning reticence make him the most richly devious narrator since Bleak House. Though Garrett eventually poses a new explanation for Marlowe's death, he still leaves the poet's mystery inviolate, surrounding and deepening it with the kaleidoscopic mysteries of his own imagination. A sumptuous, absorbing, fabulously textured rebuttal to those who think the historical novel has been killed off by the likes of John Jakes.