Book Review: The Queen's Devil (A William Constable Spy Thriller Book #3) By Paul Walker.
The Queen's Devil
A William Constable Spy Thriller Book #3
By Paul Walker
William Constable, recently married astrologer and mathematician, has settled into routine work as a physician when he is requested to attend two prisoners in the Tower of London. Both are accused of separate acts treason, but their backgrounds suggest there may be a connection.
Sir Francis Walsingham and Lord Burghley urge William to discover further intelligence from the prisoners while tending their injuries from torture.
The agent's investigations lead him to the French Embassy, which lies at the heart of a conspiracy which threatens the nation.
Through his enquiries, an unsuspecting William becomes entangled in a perilous web of politicking and religious fervour.
The threat comes from one the most powerful men in the English court – one referred to as the Queen’s Devil.
William faces a race against time to unpick these ties, climaxing in a daring raid on the Embassy.
“I am Sir Peter Gibbyn with a royal warrant for your arrest and examination.”
Those are the words that no man wanted to hear. Nor did they want to see the inside of the Tower. But when one conspires against her Majesty and is unfortunately caught...
Doctor William Constable is a scholar of astrology and physics, but in recent years he has settled down to the life of a physician. It seemed like another lifetime when he was last called into the service of spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham.
And yet, Sir Francis has not forgotten him. William is ordered to go to the Tower and attend to the medical needs of two of its prisoners, and by doing so, he is to gain their trust in the hope that kindness, after torture, will loosen their tongues.
What William learns from these men sets him on a collision course with the illustrious Earl of Leicester.
The Earl will stop at nothing to retain his position and ensure that the secrets of his past will stay in the past, forever...
The Queen's Devil: A William Constable Spy Thriller Book #3 by Paul Walker is as impressive as it is dramatic. With a keen sense of time and place, Walker has presented his readers with another emotionally enthralling thriller in A William Constable Spy Thriller series. Having enjoyed the first two books immensely, I was looking forward to catching up with my favourite scholar, physician and very reluctant spy! By the end of the first page, I was back in this astonishingly complicated world of Elizabethan politics and intrigue.
Doctor William Constable is a character that I have really come to care about, and he has gone through quite a lot for spymaster Walsingham. But in this novel, Walsingham's influence is failing, as is his health, and there is a new man who holds the attention of the Queen. William finds himself in the most perilous of situations, and there is more than his own life on the line. He has to find a solution to his predicament or those he loves will suffer most terribly. With careful use of foreshadowing, Walker prepares his readers for a thrilling romp around the streets of London. He introduces the highest in society and also the lowliest. Not forgetting of course, the Church, who was so intent upon its bloodlust that they were more than willing to listen and act upon slanderous lies. Likewise, if their patron was wealthy enough, then, the Church would forgo its teachings and accept those 30 pieces of silver with greedy, grabbing, grasping hands. Through his carefully crafted prose and an equally beguiling narrative, Walker has demonstrated most admirably the depth that some men were willing to go to in their desperate desire to keep their position and their good name.
The hero of this fabulous story, Doctor William Constable, is a man of honour but also understanding. He is a very loyal man who finds himself thrust in a situation that he would have, if he had been given the choice, avoided at all costs. His disgust at seeing the terrible plight of the prisoners who have been so brutally tortured is increased twofold by the realisation that they are going to be subjected to a cruel death despite his careful ministrations. His reluctance to spy is evident throughout this book, but he does not have a choice. He is as trapped as the prisoners are — his fate is no longer his own. I thought William's depiction was fabulous. Here is a character that a reader can really get behind and root for.
We meet many historical figures in this novel, but the antagonist of this story is one that spends the majority of the book hidden in the shadows. It is his men and his influence that causes a great deal of grief for our intrepid protagonist. Nevertheless, it is Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester that drives the narrative of this novel forward. The power and influence that Leicester had is portrayed brilliantly. This was a man that even Walsingham would not go up against. I thought Walker captured the reality of not only how much Leicester was despised because of his position, but also the length that Leicester was prepared to go to, to maintain his position as the Queen's favourite.
This is a period in history where religion and superstition clashed with science. And despite this being a period of great learning and understanding, there was a renewed belief in the supernatural and witchcraft. No longer were miracles seen as a gift from God, but a curse from the Devil. Walker has explored this era with a tenacious understanding of not only the power and corruption of the Church but also the complicated social structure of Elizabethan England. This was a time when men of science began to question the authority of the Church by their findings, and that could not be allowed. By introducing us to historical figures such as Giordano Bruno, Walker has brought vividly to life the fine line that men like Bruno trod between science and heresy, and he also demonstrates the duplicity of those who one might have considered as colleagues in this voracious quest for knowledge and understanding of the world and the universe. This was a dangerous time for philosophers and theorists who, by daring to discuss their discoveries, or even publish them now that the printing press made mass production possible, put their lives into the hands of those who would see them hang. This complex world of new ideas, and reawaken superstitions is portrayed with a dash of remarkable realism, which made this book tautly gripping.
The Queen's Devil is an absolutely riveting story that one would willingly forgo sleep to finish. As it sped headlong towards the climactic ending where glory and despair shared the same breath, Walker reminds his readers about the dangers of this era, but he also demonstrates the unfailing loyalty of a few good friends who willingly risk everything for a physician who was dragged into a complex and dangerous political game of power and wealth.
The Queen's Devil by Paul Walker is a work of flawless historical scholarship. It is also a thrilling read that keeps the reader turning those pages until that final full stop. This is the kind of book that deserves not only a place on your bookshelf, but it is also one that demands to be read again and again. It is an impressively dramatic story, and one that I cannot praise enough.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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Paul is married and lives in a village 30 miles north of London. Having worked in universities and run his own business, he is now a full-time writer of fiction and part-time director of an education trust. His writing in a garden shed is regularly disrupted by children and a growing number of grandchildren and dogs.
Paul writes historical fiction. He inherited his love of British history and historical fiction from his mother, who was an avid member of Richard III Society. The William Constable series of historical thrillers is based around real characters and events in the late sixteenth century. The first two books in the series - State of Treason and A Necessary Killing - were published in 2019. The third book, titled The Queen's Devil, was published in the summer of 2020.
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