Silbert brings hands-on experience as a private eye to her entertaining debut thriller, which shifts deftly between the present and the late 16th century. In 1593 Christopher Marlowe, temporarily bereft of his artistic muse, takes on his final espionage assignment for the nascent intelligence agencies of the time—a smuggling case that may involve high-level individuals. In contemporary New York, Kate Morgan, English Renaissance scholar turned PI, is directed by her firm—which doubles as an undercover U.S. intelligence unit—to look into the attempted burglary from the home of a dashing London financial whiz of a leather-bound volume of 16th-century intelligence reports written in cipher. As she begins to decode the yellowed pages of the old volume, she is about to discover the truth behind Marlowe's sudden and puzzling death. Meanwhile, a mysterious Italian multimillionaire, who has had run-ins with Kate's father, a U.S. senator, is plotting his revenge. Even at its most belief-straining moments (and there are more than a few), the tale moves at a refreshing clip, and Silbert provides plenty of engaging backstory about Elizabethan history, ciphers, Iranian jails, the poison of the Australian blue-ringed octopus and much more. (Feb. 24)
Forecast: Silbert's experience as a private investigator in Manhattan makes her a natural for the talk-show circuit. Backed by a five-city author tour and a 20-city radio satellite tour, plus tasteful, subtle jacket art depicting a crumbling manuscript page, the b ook will appeal as much to mainstream readers as to crime fans.
Release date: 02/01/2004