disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
Regular blog readers will know that I’m a big fan of the Jackdaw Mysteries and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sixth instalment in the series. The Sinner’s Mark by S W Perry was released in hardback in April, and it’s another hit as far as I’m concerned. This will be a big hit with lovers of historical fiction.
In The Sinner’s Mark, we meet up again with physician Nicholas Shelby and his wife Bianca, an apothecarist who still owns the Jackdaw Tavern. They are still living on Bankside in London and we’ve to the year 1600. Queen Elizabeth I is aging and there are signs of conspiracy afoot. The country is not in a good position, with war raging on the seas and famine at home. Trouble is brewing.
As a reader, you are pulled into the story of The Sinner’s Mark immediately, as a shady character called Petrus Eusebius Schenk arrives in London and when asked his name, he gives the name of Nicholas Shelby of Bankside. Who is he, what is he up to and why is he hiding his true identity?
Meanwhile, the real Nicholas is called into service by the Queen herself ahead of a visit from the Moroccan ambassador Abd el-Ouahed ben Massaoud deb Mohammed Anoun. Shelby owes him his life and the Queen has decided that Nicholas will be her eyes and ears when he visits the court. He doesn’t relish the task as it will also mean working once more with Sir Robert Cecil. It is Cecil who then informs him that his father, Thomas Shelby, has been arrested on his farm in Suffolk and is being held in Framlington Castle for possessing seditious religious material. Nicholas must find a way to save his father from having his right hand cut off; the sentence normally served for sedition. He also realises that he will almost certainly need Cecil’s help and will therefore be in his debt.
Nicholas must race to save his father whilst Bianca discovers that she has been left a house in an area of London called the Steelyard by a merchant called Aksel Leezen. She has to decide what she should do with this bequest.
We also meet William Shakespeare in The Sinner’s Mark along with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Young boys have been going missing and when a boy actor from the troupe goes missing Bianca’s suspicions are raised and she aims to find the boy and the truth behind the disappearances.
I won’t give any more of the story away, there are numerous twists and turns throughout the plot of The Sinner’s Mark as we learn more about the various characters and about Elizabethan England at this time. It’s another great read, with colourful characters and that you become heavily invested in. It certainly doesn’t disappoint.