Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot: A Historical Mystery (A Martin Marbeck Mystery Book 4). John Pilkington; Severn House Publishers; 2015; 208 pp.; ISBN: 9780727885142.
Martin Marbeck is tired, mentally and physically weary, of weaving his way through the snares of the devious plots in the Court of King James in 1605 in England. He travels under several pseudonyms and is not recognized by his real name until later in this fourth novel of his spying activities. The country is awash in Papists a/k/a Catholics and those who seek them out for extinction. But Martin through an excellent source believes there is a more sinister plot being planned that could mean the death of the King and most of his high-placed and favored ministers.
Distractions abound and cleverly keep Marbeck (or John Sanders as he is currently known) from pursuing his instinctive inclinations. The first is to follow the activities of Thomas Percy, a Papist, who seems to escape from Marbeck’s search at every turn.
A young and beautiful Charlotte de Baume succeeds in seducing Marbeck but very soon becomes a lethal opponent. Marbeck is enthralled and yet wary of her, with excellent reasons.
Using his few free days to follow his increasingly certain suspicions, Marbeck for the remainder of this novel will court danger, as well as past and recent acquaintances, to prove what he would mean absolute disaster for England and its loyal residents.
Pilkington presents an accurate and harrowing tale that shows the varying states of English people, from the glorious dress and elaborate housing of the King and his Parliament members to the lice-ridden, malodorous homes and taverns of the common folk. He also knows precisely where to arouse and ease tension with an increasingly complex set of characters. For the Papists are a serious and impassioned group, as seen in the demeanor of a captured Jesuit priest, who are not afraid to risk a certain execution in order to fulfill their mission of bringing souls to Christ within their own faith. However, Pilkington also includes other nefarious characters who believe there is a better way to change the Protestant domination of the King, a plot that is quite unholy!
Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot… is a superb historical mystery that this reviewer thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommends, as well as the previous installments in this Marbeck series. This would make a superb film series as well!