Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Course of All Treasons by Suzanne M. Wolfe continues an entertaining Elizabethan espionage series

In his second entertaining outing, the Honorable Nicholas “Nick” Holt confronts a twisted web of peril in 1586 England and gets caught in the thick of it.

Novels about Elizabethan-era espionage often delve into threats against England from Catholic Spain and Her Majesty’s sister-monarch to the north, Mary Queen of Scots. Suzanne M. Wolfe spices up the brew by incorporating rival English spy networks and an exiled Irish noblewoman from a powerful, embattled clan.

After his recent success in finding the killer of royal ladies-in-waiting, Nick is asked by Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, to find out who murdered a fellow agent and dropped his body in the Thames. A Spanish diplomat appears to be linked to the crime, and events transpire that make it seem like other agents are being targeted.

Amidst all the plotting and counter-plotting, Nick gets stuck with the company of Edmund Lovett, an overly-eager-to-please former Oxford schoolmate who saves his life on the road. Edmund works for the Earl of Essex, a foppish high-ranking aristocrat who’s set up his own team of spies. With both Essex and Walsingham serving Elizabeth, one hopes they’d be on the same side, but the competition between them means that’s only partly true.

This is a series where you’ll arrive for the intrigue and period atmosphere and stay for the multifaceted characters. The author knows her way around Tudor London, from a muddy riverside wharf to the inner sanctum of Sir Robert Cecil, Walsingham’s redoubtable young future successor. Almost everyone near the royal court has secrets, including Nick, younger brother of the Earl of Blackwell, who keeps his identity as a spy (and his family’s Catholic past) closely hidden. Even Essex has more depth than it initially seems, and then there’s Lady Annie O’Neill, a tall, dangerous redhead with hidden talents.

While Nick’s relationship with Kat, madam of a Bankside brothel, remains strong, this novel sees him getting more serious about Rivkah, a young doctor working alongside her twin brother. He admires her forthrightness and dislikes having to keep his status as an agent from her. Reading the first book (A Murder By Any Name) isn’t needed to appreciate this one, and if you haven’t yet, there aren’t any spoilers here. Both are definitely recommended.

The Course of All Treasons was published by Crooked Lane in March; thanks to the author and publisher for the review copy.


  1. I like the review so much and I am only sorry that the book is archived.

  2. Thanks for your comments on the review! Sorry the book isn't available on NetGalley anymore. Probably because it was published a couple of months ago.

  3. Thanks for your reviews of great new books like this. I've found several to add to my TBR pile from your reviews.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Lisa, that's great to hear!

  4. I enjoyed 'A Murder by Any Name' immensely, but apologise to Suzanne for not writing a proper review - yet; just one brief one on Goodreads. I was looking forward to this sequel so it might trigger two reviews.

  5. Hi Roland, hope you'll enjoy the sequel as much as the first book. Your note reminds me I should link up my earlier review of A Murder by Any Name to this one. I'll go do that now.