Marbeck and the King-in-Waiting

John Pilkington. Severn, $27.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8294-3

The approaching end of Elizabeth I’s reign in 1603 creates plenty of drama in Pilkington’s second historical featuring intelligencer Martin Marbeck (after 2012’s Marbeck and the Double-Dealer). As speculation mounts as to the queen’s successor, the spy is anxious that the queen’s master secretary and his boss, Sir Robert Cecil, is keeping him at arm’s length because Cecil doubts his loyalty. Meanwhile, Marbeck’s widowed love interest, Lady Celia Scroop, is worried about the future of her 18-year-old son, Henry, who has abandoned his studies at Oxford to follow a rabid puritanical cleric, Isaac Gow. Marbeck tells Lady Cecilia he’ll do all in his power to help Henry, even as he receives word that he’s accused of being a Spanish agent. Other Elizabethan mysteries, like those of Rory Clements and Fiona Buckley, may offer more twists, but the fast-moving plot is never dull, making the prospect of more Marbeck welcome. (Nov.)