cover image The Heretic’s Mark

The Heretic’s Mark

S.W. Perry. Atlantic (IPG, dist.), $24.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-78649-903-5

Set in 1594, British author Perry’s superlative fourth Jackdaw mystery (after The Saracen’s Mark) finds London physician Nicholas Shelby accused of being part of a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth. The vengeful Sir Fulke Vaesy, who blames Shelby for his fall from being England’s most respected anatomist, has spread the word that Shelby was allied with the plot’s supposed mastermind, physician Roderigo Lopez, who’s already been executed. Only the intervention of Sir Robert Cecil, Shelby’s sometimes spymaster, gets him released from custody. On Cecil’s advice, Shelby and his apothecary wife leave the country surreptitiously for Holland, where they happen to be present in a church at the same time someone slaughters a priest and an officer in the household of the Archduke of Austria. The officer was in the church to arrange the removal of Hieronymus Bosch’s controversial triptych The Last Judgement. Vivid characters and spot-on period details complement the intricate whodunit plot, and Perry convincingly evokes the religious tensions of the day. S.J. Parris fans will be pleased. Agent: Jane Judd, Jane Judd Literary (U.K.). (July)