Elizabethan spycraft links parallel plots in the 16th and 21st centuries.
First-timer Silbert draws heavily on her impressive academic and professional background (Ivy League, Oxford, private investigation) as she lays out simultaneous skullduggeries in two Elizabethan epochs. Both plots have to do with the scrapbook compiled by a Tudor spymaster that has popped up in Tony Blair’s modern monarchy. Many corpses went into the compilation of the encoded spy saga, and its rediscovery has led to a fresh crop, including those of a kindly don and a big-hearted jewel thief. Modestly beautiful, sexy, well-educated, martially artistic, private investigator Kate Morgan gets involved when her firm is engaged to clear up its mysteries by the book’s present possessor, jet set sexmeister Cidro Medina. Among those mysteries is the role of the hotheaded dramatist Christopher Marlowe, who seems to have filled with espionage the hours made empty by the closing of the playhouses in Black Plagued London. Marlowe is in the middle of maneuverings for the monarch’s favor by the Earls of Essex and Burghley, dealings that extend to counterfeiting, blackmail, arms smuggling, and off-the-books deals with foreign powers, most of which turn up in their modern forms as Kate travels the globe decoding the scribblings and trying to find out who wants them badly enough to kill for them in this day. Prime suspect is shady megarich art dealer Luca de Tolomei, with whom Kate engages in professional flirtation in sundry glam locales. But as Kate homes in on the solutions, her firm warns her off the case. Unbeknownst (the story is dense with unbeknowing) to Kate, her powerful senator father and her powerful, politically wired boss are deep in the reemergence from Iranian imprisonment of an important double agent. Headstrong Kate will not be put off. Continuing her investigation, she successfully hacks into the Elizabethan encryption and ties the Renaissance treachery to descendants of the evildoers.
Clunkily written (did “OK” really turn up in Tudor parlance?) and overplotted.