cover image The Eyes of the Queen: An Agents of the Crown Novel

The Eyes of the Queen: An Agents of the Crown Novel

Oliver Clements. Leopoldo, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5469-0

The rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, drives the pseudonymous Clements’s twisty, fast-paced debut and series launch set in 1572 England. Elizabeth’s spymaster, Francis Walsingham, loses possession of a secret document in a double cross perpetrated during the mayhem of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris. Whoever owns the document could presumably change the balance of power in Europe, with Protestant Elizabeth and Catholic Mary on opposite sides. As the plots and counterplots rage, trusting the wrong person can easily get someone killed. Back in England, Walsingham turns to John Dee, real-life erudite scholar, astrologer, and occultist, to get the document back. Clements’s action-oriented, gun-toting Dee is motivated by love of the queen, with whom he shares a mysterious past, and the story is most effective when it follows Dee’s efforts to break codes and break into prisons. Some readers, though, may be put off by the graphic violence, which includes a pressed-to-death public execution and the mutilation of small children. Fans of more traditional Tudor historicals may not find this page-turner to their taste. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, DeFiore and Co. (Oct.)