The Serpent’s Mark (The Jackdaw Mysteries)

Written by S. W. Perry
Review by Mike Ashworth

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, has returned to Suffolk to the family farm. Heartbroken, he is mourning the death of his wife in childbirth. In need of money, he accepts a commission from a family friend, which takes him back to his old haunts in London. While in London he is asked by the Queen’s spymaster, Robert Cecil, to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland. With Bianca Merton, healer and mistress of the Jackdaw Tavern, at his side once again, the pair find themselves in a dangerous world of religious fanatics, charlatans and treason, with Cecil ruthlessly pursuing all enemies of the Crown, whether real or imagined.

This follows on from the excellent The Angel’s Mark and further develops the relationship between Nicholas and Bianca, as well as providing a gripping read which brings alive the culture and times of the Elizabethan age. With a strong plot and characters, the story is fast-paced and exciting. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but the reader will get even more enjoyment having read the first in the series. I predict a long and fruitful future for Nicholas Shelby. Recommended.