Jack Blackjack is ordered to eliminate a spy in Princess Elizabeth’s household in this engaging Tudor mystery.
June, 1554. Former cutpurse and now professional assassin Jack Blackjack has deep misgivings about his latest assignment. He has been despatched to the Palace of Woodstock, where Queen Mary’s half-sister Princess Elizabeth is being kept under close guard. Jack’s employer has reason to believe that a spy has been installed within the princess’s household, and Jack has been ordered to kill her.
Jack has no choice but to agree. But he arrives at Woodstock to discover that a murder has already been committed.
As he sets out to prove his innocence by uncovering the real killer, Jack finds the palace to be a place steeped in misery and deceit; a hotbed of illicit love affairs, seething resentments, clashing egos and bitter jealousies. But who among Woodstock’s residents is hiding a deadly secret – and will Jack survive long enough to find out?
About the Author
Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry to concentrate on writing and the study of medieval history, especially that of Devon and Cornwall. He and his wife and daughter now live in northern Dartmoor.
Read an Excerpt
It has been said, so I have heard, that a man's good name is his most precious possession; it should be more highly prized than silver or gold, rubies or diamonds.
That sounds fine, but I've always felt that my own most important and valuable assets are my good looks and my pelt, and I am very closely attached to both. I dislike the idea of spoiling or losing either of them. .
Which is why, when I was suddenly confronted by Thomas Falkes in a dim, dingy alleyway that smelled of hog shit and rotten entrails, out near the shambles beside Smithfield, my inclination was just to turn and run, especially when I saw his mouth open in a broad grin. There was a lot in that grin: malice vindictiveness, and a complete lack of feeling for his fellow man. Mostly, it showed he was looking forward to inflicting pain on me. .
And I would have bolted, too, were it not for the two men who had appeared behind me. Individually they were large; as wide as the alley, almost, and tall as a house, or so it seemed. It felt like I was confronted by a wall of muscle. .
'I want a word with you,' Falkes said while I cricked my neck looking up at their faces. .
I turned to face him. It's better, I reckon, to see what is about to happen rather than guessing and, besides, I would never break through those two. I was inclined to think that if I were to escape, it would be around Thomas. .
'Hallo, Thomas,' I said airily. Then I saw the size of the knife in his hand. .
He smiled. 'I'm going to cut your ballocks off, and feed them to you.'.
Not the most favourable beginning, but Thomas Falkes was not one of the world's light-hearted conversationalists. One of the most famous thief-takers and crooked men in the whole of London, if you ignore the politicians and lawyers, Falkes was a swindler, blackmailer, procurer of whores and fence of stolen goods. There was no crime so small that he wouldn't deign to corner it. I'd heard that he had once robbed his own mother of her pewter. Another man told me he killed his own father, but I think that was Falkes boasting. I doubt he ever knew his father.