Christopher Marlowe, Elizabethan play write and supposed spy for Francis Walsingham has a new play, Tamburlaine, being performed.
Will Shakespeare has a part. He is to fire a gun during the performance. He discharges his gun and in the aftermath it is discovered that he has killed someone in the audience--his landlady. That's just the beginning. It's up to Kit to solve the riddle, and clear Shakespeare. Bodies begin to litter the novel's stage. A corpse is fished from the Thames.
Dodgy doings and swindling is at hand. Spies are thicker on the ground than a London fog.
The action includes a dangerous chase through the narrow streets alleyways, and a murderer most unexpected.
Trow has made use of interesting historical fact and speculation such as the relationship between Kit and and William Shakespeare, the thought that Marlowe might have been a crown spy, and other factors to great advantage.
Two of the nefarious toughs we first meet attempting a swindle on Marlowe, we continue to meet throughout the story. They are Nicholas Skeres and Ingram Fritzer. (Historically rumoured to have stabbed Kit to death.)
The problem Kit is having with his Masters Degree being conferred by his Cambridge college, Corpus Christi, a matter that forms part of the background in this novel, is sorted out by the Chief Secretary, one of Walsingham's associates. (That this historically actually was a problem for Marlowe, solved by outside pressure, suggests some think, that Marlowe did indeed work for the crown.)
Kit's investigations leads him into a nest of Protestants. But as one says to him there are many groups, 'What is it they call us? Puritans? Well it takes all sorts, Brother, all sorts. We are actually fifty shades of grey when all is said and done.' A nicely used line by Trow. Wryly amusing.
A thoroughly good yarn!