Author: Christopher Gortner, 2013.
Genre: Spy Thriller. Historical Fiction. 16th Century England.
Other Details: Hardback. 352 pages.
1553: Harsh winter falls across the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower, but rumours of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person many consider to be England's heir and only hope-- her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth. Brendan Prescott's foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings news that sends Brendan back to London on a dangerous mission. Intent upon trying to save Elizabeth, he soon finds himself working as a double-agent for Mary herself. Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a shadowy opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess's private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit - where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister - nobody can be trusted. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
Although the first book in the series, The Tudor Secret, was first published in the UK in 2011, it had been originally published in the USA in 2004 under the title The Secret Lion. I was somewhat surprised that it took nine years for Gortner to produce a follow-up though I am glad that he did as Brendan was an engaging lead and I wanted to see how he fared after the dramatic events of The Tudor Secret.
I certainly enjoyed this novel and felt that it was stronger than the first book, especially in its setting, while continuing to be a satisfying mystery that incorporated historical figures and events with some dramatic licence, which Gortner explains in his Author's Notes. I do hope that Gortner doesn't wait another nine years to write further adventures of Brendan.
Even though some background is given to Brendan's earlier adventures in the novel, I would suggest that it is best to read The Tudor Secret first to learn how he came to be associated with Cecil and the Tudors.