I don’t get to read enough historical thrillers, so when I was asked to take a look at The Serpent’s Mark recently I couldn’t refuse. Written by S W Perry and published through Corvus in June this year, this novel is set in Elizabethan England and is full of suspense and intrigue.
The Serpent’s Mark starts in London in the year 1591, the country has been through years of religious upheaval and the threat of treason is a constant undercurrent.
We meet Nicholas Shelby, a once successful physician who has struggled since his wife’s death. He’s slowly rebuilding his life and has returned to Bankside which is a rather unruly part of London. Full of characters, suspicion and home to Padua born Bianca Merton, friend and healer, who also happens to be the mistress of the Jackdaw tavern.
In The Serpent’s Mark, Shelby is called into service as a spy by Robert Cecil, with the task of investigating the practices of Arcampora, a doctor who has arrived from Switzerland. At the same time, Merton’s cousin Bruno Barranti arrives on the ship, Sirena, laden with rice. Shelby is Protestant whilst Merton and her cousin have grown up in the Catholic faith. When Barranti is attacked and left for dead, the lives of all concerned are changed and Merton and Shelby must work together to save the seaman and uncover the truth behind a great conspiracy.
There are multiple layers within the story of The Serpent’s Mark which weave into each other as the novel progresses. It took me a little while to really get into this book, but once I had, I was hooked. The characters are believable and you get a true sense of the times that they lived in. you also get an understanding of the gruesome ‘medical’ techniques used at the time. Having since read the book, I’ve discovered that it’s the second in the Jackdaw Mysteries series, I shall have to read the first book now. But it has stood up well without having read The Angel’s Mark first.
I’ve included my Amazon affiliate link (I earn from qualifying purchases) for both books below for your reference.
disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review.