The Deputy Warden of the English West Marsh and his trusted right-hand man are involved in dangerous and treasonous plots in 1592 London.
Sir Robert Carey’s sidekick, Sergeant Dodd, seeks a lawyer to sue the evil and greedy Vice Chamberlain, Thomas Heneage, with whom Carey and Dodd have already tangled. He chooses the offbeat Mr. Enys, but the case is thwarted by higher-ups. Meanwhile, Carey’s mother, an aristocrat who has no patience with the court even though her husband, Lord Chamberlain Hunsdon, is the powerful but illegitimate half-brother of Elizabeth I, arrives from Cornwall to pursue her own pleasures. And a mystery arises: What can a body washed up on the shore of the Thames and a priest who’s been drawn and quartered have to do with a scheme to sell Cornish land at inflated prices? Carey and Dodd prowl the sordid and unhealthy streets of London, playing sly games with the likes of Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe while getting aid from London’s King of Thieves. Dodd is anxious to return home to his wife, but when Carey takes off to visit the Queen, he’s left on his own to sort out a tangled tale of unspeakable cruelty and treachery.
Carey’s long-awaited fifth adventure (A Plague of Angels, 2000, etc.) may be too slow-moving and complex for some readers, but the lovingly presented historical details make it worth the slog.