cover image Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot

Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot

John Pilkington. Severn, $27.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8514-2

Set in London in 1605, Pilkington’s fourth mystery featuring intelligencer Martin Marbeck (after 2014’s Marbeck and the Privateers) sustains suspense throughout, even though most readers are likely to know the outcome of the real-life title conspiracy. While working undercover during a time when talk of rebellion against the crown appears to have more substance than usual, the spy hears rumors of a kidnapping plot targeting the children of James I. By chance Marbeck gathers more disturbing evidence that concerns the increased production of gunpowder. As he follows the trail, he finds himself in peril and unable to trust anyone, even his superiors. A plot to blow up the Parliament building when it resumes session on the fifth of November with the king inside is afoot, but Marbeck doesn’t reveal what’s really going on until the satisfying and twisty conclusion. Evocative period detail more than compensates for the weak romantic subplot involving a lost love of the lead. (Sept.)