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Michael Clynes aka PC Doherty

A Brood of Vipers

Headline 1994

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In the spring of 1523, Cardinal Wolsey's 'beloved' nephew, Benjamin Daunbey, and the latter's rapscallion servant, Roger Shallot, are summoned to London. A Florentine envoy, Lord Francesco Abrizzi, has been foully murdered in Cheapside. He has been shot in the head by a new-fangled hand cannon and King Henry VIII, the 'Great Beast' of Shallot's memoirs, is determined to unmask the perpetrators of this outrage. Benjamin and Shallot, escorted to London by the sinister magus, Dr Agrippa, are also to collect, en route, an old court physician, Sir Edward Throckle. However, they arrive at his lonely manor house to find Throckle's corpse floating in a bath of blood - the physician has apparently taken his own life. In London, Shallot experiences King Henry VIII's rage and spite, the insults of the Abrizzis and a murderous attack on his own life. Shallot, a born coward, with the fastest legs in Christendom, just wants to crawl away and hide, but Henry VIII and Wolsey are most insistent: Shallot and Benjamin are to journey to Florence, discover the identity of Lord Francesco's assassin, deliver a secret message to Cardinal Gulio de Medici, Prince of the church and ruler of Florence, as well as inveigle back to England a Florentine painter. It sounds simple enough - but the reality is murderously different; they experience murder on board ship, pursuit by Turkish corsairs, the Satanic rites of a black magician and bloodshed on every side. Meanwhile, the drawn-out massacre of the Abrizzi family continues as Shallot and Daunbey are caught in a veritable web of treachery which taxes even Shallot's sharp wits before they stumble on the truth, the roots of which lie in an ancient sin -its effects will change England and Europe for ever

Michael Clynes

Classic Crime Fiction

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