The Queen's Man by Rory Clements

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The Queen's Man by Rory Clements

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A fast paced adventure set in Elizabethan England, The Queen's Man is full of treachery, intrigue, and high drama. A decent detective novel that weaves in real life figures and events wonderfully.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1848548480

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Elizabethan England - a murky, dirty world full of religious strife and violent, short lives. Queen Elizabeth sits on the throne, but her seat is by no means safe - her first cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, is locked up in Sheffield Castle. Unable to leave, but by no means unable to plot and scheme with her supporters, Mary wishes to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers - the throne. But even she cannot be prepared for the dark twists and new plots that arise.

John Shakespeare - a young barrister who has been taken on as a spy by Queen Elizabeth's advisor Francis Walsingham, is sent to investigate the goings on at the castle, and soon finds himself thrown into a plot that is far bigger than either Mary or Elizabeth, and makes John question everything he holds close - including his own brother, William.

I've always been very interested in the Elizabethan period, and setting a spy/detective novel in that period is a fantastic idea, especially given that Sir Francis Walsingham is often referred to as the First Spymaster. Rory Clements has written five novels in this vein before, all featuring John Shakespeare, but this is the first that has gone back to the beginning - showing how he came to work for Walsingham, and of the events that occured on his first mission.

Shakespeare is a very likable character - intelligent, clever and witty, he's great company to spend time with. In addition, I particularly enjoyed seeing what his brother William was up to at the time - seeing William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway courting is great fun.

Clements writes a vivid Elizabethan England - the dirt, filth and danger feel incredibly real, and it's incredible to see just how little life was regarded by some. One vile character who really stands out is Richard Topcliffe - the moment where Shakespeare finds himself seated next to the man at dinner is wonderfully written, and Topcliffe is by all accounts as awful a person in life as he was in the novel.

In addition, Mary Queen of Scots comes across as a woman who is ill and desperate, and is constantly persuaded and encouraged by her Catholic supporters to take the throne. Whilst she clearly longs for the power, it's hard not to feel sorry for a woman who has clearly been brought up to believe that this is her true destiny.

The story twists and turns at a rapid pace - and the action moves from London, through stinking castles and open fields, to Stratford - the home of the Shakespeare family. With likeable characters and vivid writing, this book is one that was hard to put down, and the conclusion is both exhilarating and satisfying.

Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

This is a great introduction to the world of John Shakespeare - John Shakespeare: Prince is another excellent volume about him.

And the Shardlake series is still continuing, and is still a great read - the first is Dissolution, and is set in the reign of Henry VIII - forty or so years before the events of The Queen's Man

Buy The Queen's Man by Rory Clements at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Queen's Man by Rory Clements at

Buy The Queen's Man by Rory Clements at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Queen's Man by Rory Clements at


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