The Heretic’s Mark (The Jackdaw Mysteries 4)

Written by S. W. Perry
Review by jay Dixon

This is the third Jackdaw novel which I have reviewed for the HNS, and which I enjoyed as much as ever. S. W. Perry has an easy style and good plots. He has also obviously done his research, both historical and geographical.

Set in Elizabethan England and Europe, this fourth novel in the series starts with the execution of the Queen’s physician, a Jew, for treason. This is fact. Nicholas Shelby, also accused of treason, is fiction, but is the mainspring of the story. As a result of his denunciation, he and his new wife, Bianca, flee England and arrive at Den Bosch in the Netherlands (the home town of Hieronymus Bosch), where they meet the mysterious Beguine Hella Maas, who accompanies them on their journey down the Via Francigena, an old pilgrim route from France to Rome, though they leave it at Padua, where Bianca’s family lives.

Afraid they have been followed by spies, they experience constant tension, even once they have arrived safely at Bianca’s uncle’s home. But it is murder which seems to have followed them, and Nicholas needs to find out who the murderer is before he and his wife can be safe. Written in the first person, with multiple points of view, this novel keeps the tension going throughout, and I recommend both it and the series as a whole.