1593. England is a powderkeg of rumour and fear. Plague rages, famine is rife, the ageing Queen’s courtiers scheme. Meanwhile Spain watches and waits – and plots. Into this turmoil a small cart clatters through the streets of London, carrying a deadly load. It is the first in a series of bombing attacks that will change the life of intelligencer John Shakespeare for ever. Driven on by cold rage, his investigations take him from the opulent chambers of Black Luce’s brothel to royal horse races, and from the theatre underworld of Marlowe and Kyd to the splintering timbers of an explosive encounter at sea.