1587. With the axe hovering over the slender neck of Mary Queen of Scots, tensions within Elizabeth I’s government are at breaking point. Catholic Spain is poised to unleash its invasion fleet – and a plot is uncovered to assassinate Sir Francis Drake, England’s greatest sea warrior. In a London rife with rumour, intelligencer John Shakespeare must protect him at all costs. But when the mutilated body of a high-born young woman is found in an illicit printing house, it is political gunpowder – and he has no option to investigate.