The English Agent

Written by Phillip Depoy
Review by Ann Northfield

I’ve often found that when I inadvertently pick up a book that is later in a series, I have a difficult time getting interested in the characters or plot. That was not at all the case with The English Agent, second in DePoy’s Elizabethan England/Christopher Marlowe mystery series. Immediately, I was intrigued by the plot, which revolves around the infamous Babington Plot to murder Queen Elizabeth in which Marlowe played a role. DePoy uses the Marlowe angle and his suspected involvement as a secret agent in the employ of Sir Francis Walsingham and puts them to good use in a storyline that twists and turns throughout. It is fast-paced and fun, even for those of us well-versed in Tudor history.

DePoy’s writing is a genuine delight. In the space of a single page, I found myself laughing at a witty line, choked up at a poignant comment, and tense with excitement. His fictional characters are just as well developed as Marlowe, Dr. Lopez, Walsingham and Philip Sidney, and I found myself caring particularly about one of them. Dialogue moves smoothly, as did the general narration. I appreciated also how DePoy sprinkles into the characters’ conversations fragments of Elizabethan poetry from Marlowe, Shakespeare, Sidney, and Kyd, easily and without pretension. It suits the novel very well. Very highly recommended.