The Jesuit Letter
Christopher Tyburn, the ex-soldier turned actor in Dean Hamilton’s rousingly good debut novel, The Jesuit Letter, is touring the Midlands of England with the Earl of Worcester’s Men, hoping the deadlier dramas of his earlier life had been left behind. But when he accidentally intercepts a letter from a Jesuit priest hiding in Warwickshire, he is suddenly, involuntarily involved in long-simmering Catholic plots against the Crown and must work with locals (most of whom have quite a bit to hide) to clear his name and stay one step ahead of would-be assassins who suddenly want him dead.
Readers familiar with the Elizabethan era’s most famous inhabitant will prick up their ears at the mention of Warwickshire, and they won’t be disappointed: Tyburn is soon dealing with a certain Stratford merchant named John and his bright-eyed, word-spilling young son, William Shakespeare – in fact, Tyburn soon takes rather a liking to the boy, whose fancies and endless talk console him for some of his own personal losses.
Hamilton’s narrative has been researched with obvious vigor, and yet despite the fact that the novel has frequent footnotes, the story flies along to a very satisfyingly gripping ending that will leave readers hoping for more Tyburn adventures.