Marbeck and the Double-Dealer

Written by John Pilkington
Review by Viviane Crystal

Martin Marbeck is a spy for Queen Elizabeth in the year 1600. He travels under various pseudonyms with one mission that very quickly changes to what he initially believes is a different mission but is actually very much related to the first. The reader learns that there is a traitor spy or double-dealer (or “mole” as named today) who is not only selling England’s vital national secrets but has also caused the death of several spies in the queen’s service. Add to that he has to find out the possibility of another attack from Spain. How does one discover if one is constantly being fed misinformation interwoven with bits of truth?

So Marbeck’s frustrating travels and dealings with questionable and worthy men continue: men who dally with vital information and make mistakes because of weaknesses taken to soothe their anxieties, and so forth. His character is one that brooks no nonsense from liars, and yet he is rivetingly cunning in getting the truth from even the savviest characters/spies. One can’t tell how he knows where to go next and when to backtrack with the clues that are so slowly revealed. Other clues are not so obvious to the reader but definitely clear to the highly intuitive and logical Marbeck. Marbeck and the Double Dealer is a superb historical mystery that concludes with an unexpected solution that leaves open many more dangerous doors.