• Paperback: 576 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 31, 2018)
From acclaimed author Karen Brooks comes this intriguing novel rich in historical detail and drama as it tells the unforgettable story of Queen Elizabeth’s daring, ruthless spymaster and his female protégée.
In Queen Elizabeth’s England, where no one can be trusted and secrets are currency, one woman stands without fear.
Mallory Bright is the only daughter of London’s most ingenious locksmith. She has apprenticed with her father since childhood, and there is no lock too elaborate for her to crack. After scandal destroys her reputation, Mallory has returned to her father’s home and lives almost as a recluse, ignoring the whispers and gossip of their neighbors. But Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster and a frequent client of Mallory’s father, draws her into his world of danger and deception. For the locksmith’s daughter is not only good at cracking locks, she also has a talent for codes, spycraft, and intrigue. With Mallory by Sir Francis’s side, no scheme in England or abroad is safe from discovery.
But Mallory’s loyalty wavers when she witnesses the brutal and bloody public execution of three Jesuit priests and realizes the human cost of her espionage. And later, when she discovers the identity of a Catholic spy and a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom, she is forced to choose between her country and her heart.
Once Sir Francis’s greatest asset, Mallory is fast becoming his worst threat—and there is only one way the Queen’s master spy deals with his enemies…
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Australian-born Karen Brooks is the author of nine novels, an academic, a newspaper columnist and social commentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer, and dabbled in acting. She lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
Find out more about Karen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Mallory Bright is returning to her family home in disgraced. At nineteen, she ran away with a man she believed to be the love of her life only to be taken advantage of. Her father has rescued her and her mother has created a less shameful ruse for her to live by. However, Mallory is still seen as a blight by her mother and neighbors. Her father, a locksmith has taught Mallory skills over the years. Mallory is his lock pick, testing his wares. He calls on an old friend, Sir Francis Walsingham to find employment for Mallory. Walsingham sees potential in her skills and brings Mallory on as a watcher in his spy network. Mallory is the key in exposing several Catholic threats to the Crown. Although, as Mallory begins to see the destruction she is causing, her loyalties to Walsingham begin to waver.
From the moment Mallory is introduced, I was latched on to this historical thriller. Mallory is intelligent, thoughtful and eager to learn. She is desperately trying not to let peoples thoughts of her and her past effect her. I immediately wondered what her shameful secret could be and why she blamed herself. Then, I was brought into Mallory's world of locks and lockpicking. I learned about the intricacies of the locksmith world in Tudor England and how valuable a well made lock could be in this time-period. Through Mallory's eyes I was taken into the dangerous world of Sir Francis Walsingham's spy ring and was able to see the talent and the tasks that were deemed necessary in order to keep Queen Elizabeth safe. As Mallory trains and becomes and agent, she finds purpose and begins to forget her nightmarish past. However, as her actions as a spy begin to bring harsh consequences to the people around her, Mallory wonders if the people Walsingham has deemed dangerous really are as threatening as he perceives, or if they are just people trying to practice a religion of their own. Historical accurate detail of the political climate and descriptions fill out the writing, from stage production, food, dress and housing, I could picture Elizabethan England. I also don't believe I had ever read about a hanging, drawing and quartering in enough detail to turn my stomach. A dash of sweet romance from a brusque Lord Nathanial helps to round out this fast paced historical thriller.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.