cover image The Queen’s Men

The Queen’s Men

Oliver Clements. Leopoldo, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5475-1

Set in 1577, Clements’s exciting sequel to 2020’s The Eyes of the Queen vividly recreates the cloak-and-dagger intrigues of the Elizabethan era. The seriously ill Elizabeth, against the counsel of her advisers who are worried about assassins, insists on returning to her London palace from Hertfordshire. En route, her caravan is accosted by armed men who fire multiple shots into the monarch’s carriage before fleeing, mortally wounding one of the occupants. Initially believed to be the queen, the victim proves to be the teenage daughter of a knight who was riding in the royal carriage while the sick queen was being transported in a separate vehicle. The attempt at regicide, along a route whose details were closely guarded, leads Elizabeth to charge Francis Walsingham, “Her Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary,” with tracking down the killers and identifying the men behind them. At the same time, she orders alchemist John Dee to recreate a legendary weapon, Greek fire, to use against the Spanish. Clements smoothly blends a fast-paced plot with evocative period detail. S.J. Parris fans will be pleased. (Dec.)