Book Review: Marbeck and the Double Dealer by John Pilkington

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Pub date: 13 April 2021

England, 1600.

In the twilight years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign the nation is at war on two fronts, and fears of a Spanish invasion are never far away.

In this febrile atmosphere, spymaster Sir Robert Cecil calls in Martin Marbeck – his best, if most undisciplined agent – to unmask a double agent who is feeding secrets to the enemy. Marbeck has been under a cloud since a failed mission in Flanders, and is eager to be on the trail.

But the traitor – codename Mulberry – proves maddeningly elusive. Soon Marbeck must leave England for France and venture into the lion’s den, following a tortuous path that winds back to London. With the help of his fellow-agent, the unruly Joseph Gifford, a trap is laid to ensnare Mulberry – with deadly and unforeseen results.

The spy network has been compromised, which means all intelligence reports could be suspect, and the nation in grave danger. So Marbeck must use all his skills to confront the secret forces of the mighty Spanish empire, which pits him against the cleverest and most ruthless opponent he has ever faced.

I’m a big fan of Pilkington’s Thomas the Falconer series so was looking forward to starting the Martin Marbeck Mystery Series. Marbeck and the Double Dealer is the first in the series.

Marbeck is an agent working for Robert Cecil and the first in the series sees him thrown into action it’s discovered there may be a traitor in the midst, working for the Spanish and providing false information to the spy master. As Marbeck is dispatched to uncover the identity of the traitor he finds himself in danger both at home and abroad.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book, full of adventure and twists and I’d recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction.
Pilkington is brilliant at setting the scene, describing surroundings and of course any action scenes. There is some humour in this which had me laughing at some points.

The characters are great especially Marbeck and Cecil and I enjoyed how their relationship was explained throughout.

This is certainly a series I will be continuing with especially after I enjoyed the Thomas the Falconer series so much, I have high hopes for the rest of this one and am looking forward to Marbeck’s next adventure.

My reviews of each instalment of Thomas the Falconer are available in order below:

The Ruffler’s Child

A Ruinous Wind

The Ramage Hawk

The Mapmaker’s Daughter

The Maiden Bell

The Jingler’s Luck

The Muscovy Chain

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