The Elizabethan world is in flux. Radical new ideas are challenging the old. But the quest for knowledge can lead down dangerous paths.
LONDON, 1594. The Queen’s physician has been executed for treason, and conspiracy theories flood the streets. When Nicholas Shelby, unorthodox physician and unwilling associate of spymaster Robert Cecil, is accused of being part of the plot, he and his new wife Bianca must flee for their lives. With agents of the Crown on their tail, they make for Padua, following the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena.
But the pursuing English aren’t the only threat Nicholas and Bianca face. Hella, a strange and fervently religious young woman, has joined them on their journey. When the trio finally reach relative safety, they become embroiled in a radical and dangerous scheme to shatter the old world’s limits of knowledge. But Hella’s dire predictions of an impending apocalypse, and the brutal murder of a friend of Bianca’s forces them to wonder: who is this troublingly pious woman? And what does she want?
LONDON, 1591: Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London's lawless Bankside. But, when spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself. With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a sinister world of zealots, charlatans, and dangerous fanatics.
LONDON, 1593. Five years on from the Armada and England is taking its first faltering steps towards a future as a global power.
Nicholas Shelby – reluctant spy and maverick physician – and his companion Bianca Merton are settling into a life on Bankside. But, in London there is always a plot afoot…
Robert Cecil, the Queen’s spymaster, once again recruits Nicholas to undertake a dangerous undercover mission that will take him to the back alleys of Marrakech in search of a missing informer. However, while Nicholas hunts for the truth across the seas, plague returns once more to London – ravaging the streets and threatening those dearest to him.
Can Bianca and Nicholas’ budding relationship weather the threats of pestilence and conspiracy? And will Nicholas survive his mission and the unpredictability of Marrakesh to return home?
LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.
When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London. Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper.
As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…