Revenger - Rory Clements

It seems that historical fiction set in Tudor times is the flavour of the month in the publishing world at present, though CJ Sansom's sales figures probably account for much of that - this series of books is set slightly later, in the waning days of Elizabeth's reign. Our protagonist is John Shakespeare, elder brother of the well-known playwright, and one-time intelligencer for Elizabeth's spymaster Walsingham.

In 'Revenger' Shakespeare hopes his spying days are over, as he's settled down with his wife and child to teach in a London school; naturally, further problems are waiting just around the corner for him as he's recruited by both Elizabeth's current favourite (the Earl of Essex) and her new spymaster as Essex appears to be plotting to usurp the throne on the queen's death. Matters are not helped by the fact that Shakespeare's wife is a Catholic and only grudgingly going along with the laws that govern religious practice at the time.

I can't say I was quite as taken with Revenger as I was with the previous book (Martyr), getting a little annoyed with Shakespeare at times, not to mention the sheer selfish idiocy of some of his wife's behaviour. The series continues in Prince and as yet I'm undecided whether I'll be continuing along with this particular author...