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Monday 8 August 2022

‘Shadow of the Tower’ by Peter Tonkin

Published by Sharpe Book,
4 July 2022.
ISBN: 979-8839-12900-9 (PB)

The year is 1603 and Queen Elizabeth lies on her death bed. As she nears her end, she still has not named her successor. Plots and schemes abound by different factions, all wanting their own favourite to claim the throne.

Master Secretary Cecil is determined to see King James the sixth of Scotland on the English throne and keep the country protestant. On reading the list of possible successors to the rapidly fading Elizabeth, a wave of her hand manages to convince him she chooses James.

As previously arranged a ring is given to Sir Robert Carey to carry to Scotland as proof of the Queen’s death.  On her last breath he starts his journey. Cecil’s intelligencer, Robert Poley is given the task of making sure no harm comes to James and that any other would be successors are unveiled.

His main antagonist proves to be a secular priest, William Watson. Poley instructs his brother in law, Tom to follow Carey. Luckily he is able to foil an attempt on Sir Robert’s life. When Poley hears of this, he becomes more concerned than ever and discovers an unbelievable number of plotters. Above all others the Catholics seem the most determined to sway the King or replace him with a like minded believer.

As James travels south, both friends and foes jostle for his attention. Then a serious attempt is made on James’s life which delays his procedure. Poley next uncovers a plot to kidnap the would be King and hold him prisoner until he comes round to their way of thinking. One traitor after another is revealed and sent to the Tower to be interrogated. Poley’s task to protect James and secure the future of the country seems overwhelming as he uncovers plot after plot.

Then just when the future King is about to be crowned, another attempt is made on his life, resulting in an incident which devastates Poley.

Based mainly on true events and involving real people, it is incredible to read how much intrigue and plotting took place, a lot of it in the name of religion. Peter Tonkin has written a really in depth fascinating account of part of our country’s history and I highly recommend it for readers interested in such.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Peter Tonkin was born 1 January 1950 in Ulster, son of an RAF officer. He spent much of his youth travelling the world from one posting to another. He went to school at Portora Royal, Enniskillen and Palmer's, Grays. He sang, acted, and published poetry, winning the Jan Palac Memorial Prize in 1968. He studied English with Seamus Heaney at Queen's Belfast. His first novel, Killer, was published in 1978. His work has included the acclaimed "Mariner" series that have been critically compared with the best of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Hammond Innes. He has also written a series of Elizabethan mysteries. Since retiring from teaching he has written mysteries set in Ancient Rome and more recently a series set in Greece.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors. 

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