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Michael Clynes aka PC Doherty

The Poisoned Chalice

Headline 1992

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Being the second journal of Sir Roger Shallot concerning certain wicked conspiracies and horrible murders perpetrated in the reign of King Henry VIII In 1521, England is at peace under the rule of the magnificent Cardinal Wolsey, who controls the country from his spider's web, the lavish and luxurious Hampton Court. Wolsey rules while Henry VI11 spends his time in masques, banquets and hunting, whether it be the fleet-footed deer or the even more delicious quarry of the silken-garbed ladies of his court. Meanwhile Roger Shallot and his master, Benjamin Daunbey, nephew of the cardinal, are now the proud owners of a manor and fertile lands outside Ipswich; Benjamin is a caring and easy-going landowner. Shallot, however, with his born penchant for mischief, has grown bored and wanders off to look for villainy in the stews and flesh-houses of London's slums - and promptly lands himself in Fleet Prison. Benjamin once again rescues him for they have been summoned by Wolsey, who needs their services for a secret diplomatic task. Richard Falconer, chief secretary of the English embassy in Paris, has been found mysteriously murdered. Wolsey believes Falconer's death is connected with the disturbing news that there is a spy in the English court or in its embassy in Paris, passing information to King Francis I of France, and they are to investigate. The only clue is the spy's code name 'Raphael'. King Henry has secret instructions of his own before the pair journey to Paris: to retrieve a precious ring, the subject of a wager, and a certain book which the king does not want to fall into enemy hands. They are not to return to England without them. Naturally, Shallot secretly objects to this assignment - he places a high value on his own skin, and the games of princes invariably include violent death, danger, treachery and little thanks. On this occasion, the likeable rogue Shallot and his taciturn master Benjamin are not disappointed.

Michael Clynes

Classic Crime Fiction

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