Written by Rory Clements
Review by Ann Northfield

This is the second novel by Clements featuring the Elizabethan ‘intelligencer’, John Shakespeare. His more famous younger brother pops up from time to time when he has a moment free from playwriting, but this is really just a cameo.

The previous novel, Martyr, focused on the possible invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. This new addition centres on another famous event, the disappearance of the Roanoke colony in Virginia. Although retired from detecting and running a school for poor boys, Shakespeare is forced into working for the Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth`s ambitious young courtier. His mission is to find Eleanor Dare, who apparently managed to escape from Roanoke and who holds the secret to its fate.

Interwoven with all this is the uncovering of a plot to kill the ageing Queen and the marital troubles between John and his Catholic wife. The novel is well-researched, exciting, and tense with characters you really care about. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, and the sense of menace is maintained throughout. Many of the characters meet a suitably gory end, and the pages turn quickly. I enjoyed Revenger as much as I had previously enjoyed Martyr and am already looking forward to the third in this stimulating series. Very much recommended.