A Necessary Killing
(William Constable Spy Thriller Series, Book 2)
By Paul Walker
William Constable - physician and unwilling spy - is in Plymouth waiting to sail to the New World. The expedition, led by renowned explorers and traders, John Hawkins and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, has already suffered birth pangs.
William's friend, Captain Charles Wicken, is accused of killing the son of a wealthy merchant, but the testimonies appear suspect. When William learns that Wicken is one of Walsingham’s agents he uncovers evidence to suggest the murder and Wicken’s naming are designed to conceal a plot of invasion - backed by Rome and Spain.
The sailing of the expedition's fleet is delayed while this threat is examined. William is despatched to St Malo, the lawless haunt of corsairs, to investigate. His betrothed, Helen Morton, together with the fleet, wait for his return.
Malign forces conspire to prevent William from carrying vital intelligence back to Plymouth.
William must evade enemy agents and unravel a tangle of duplicity if he is to survive - and prevent the invasion.
"Gentlemen, a plot, more devious and broader in scope than we suspected, has been uncovered..."
William Constable is a scholar of astrology and physics, he is not an adventurer, a sailor, or a soldier, but here he is in Plymouth, waiting to sail to the New World. It will be William's new instrument of navigation — The Shadow-Staff — that the fleet will be using. But since a storm ravaged the fleet during the passage from Sandwich, this grand adventure has been plagued with one delay after another. And the longer they remain in Plymouth, the more likely it is that the sailors will grow increasingly unruly due to idleness. However, there is an even darker threat than a crew of impatient and bored sailors.
William, unbeknown to most, is also a somewhat reluctant spy for Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster and the principle Secretary to Queen Elizabeth I. But, William isn't the only one. His dear friend Captain Charles Wicken also works for Walsington and Wicken has uncovered a plot in which it seems that Spain and Papist Rome back an invasion of England.
William must discover if the plot has substance and, until he does, the grand adventure will have to wait.
From attempted murder to a daring escape, A Necessary Killing (William Constable Spy Thriller series Book 2) is the exciting new thriller by Historical Fiction author, Paul Walker.
Having been entirely captivated by Walker's debut novel, State of Treason, I was looking forward with eager anticipation to reading the second book, in what promised to be a fabulous series. A Necessary Killing was everything I had hoped it to be and then some.
As before with Book 1, William captured my attention from the very first sentence and Walker's compelling narrative seduced me and enticed me to keep turning those pages. The story is incredibly fast-paced with a whodunnit? mentality that made this book next to impossible to put down. This novel certainly has enough adrenaline to keep you up all night. A Necessary Killing does not threaten to mesmerise — it does.
In book 1, William is a somewhat reluctant spy for Spymaster Walsingham, and on the face of it, he isn't the obvious choice. William isn't a soldier, but perhaps that is what makes him so good at being a spy. He is out of his depth on more than one occasion, and yet, somehow, he gets results that others do not, and maybe that is down to his sincere personality — he is, for the most part, liked, and he is approachable. I think this makes him more useful to Walsingham than a hardened and competent soldier.
By telling the story in the first person, Walker has made the characterisation of William all the more real in the telling. William is a man of learning, but he is also a very loyal friend, and he considers Wicken a friend — the man did, after all, save his life. William will go to any length, keeping within the parameters of the law, to return the favour. He is committed to seeing an acquittal and spends many hours trying to prove that Wicken did not kill a local man. However, sometimes, this almost blinkered determination to get the results he desires means that occasionally he misses the evidence that is right before his eyes. I thought these flaws in William's character made him all the more believable and extremely likeable. This is a hero that a reader can really get behind, and one whose journey is an absolute pleasure to read about.
Walker has penned not only an enthralling story that captures the history of the era but one that does not shy away from the darker side of Tudor life. Justice, if you can call it that, was harsh, often corrupt and lacking compassion. Through William's eyes, we experience this justice first hand when he takes it upon himself to try to help Wicken escape the hangman's noose. William is a learned man, but as he discovers, that is not always to an advantage when faced with a court full of angry men seeking justice. I thought Walker's depiction of what it was like to find yourself in front of a jury during this time was masterfully portrayed and penned with a sense of realism. Life was cheap, and Walker demonstrates this most admirably.
Which leads me on to Captain Charles Wicken's characterisation. Wicken helps to drive this story forward. He is, however, a man of two sides — there is the one that he shows William, and another much darker one. From the beginning, Walker drops subtle hints as to Wicken's true character, but as we experience this story through William's eyes, it is very easy to get caught up in the momentum of William's eagerness to see his friend walk free. I thought this was exceptionally well done.
Although William is a fictional character, we are introduced to some historical characters from this time. I thought Walker's portrayal of Admiral Sir John Hawkins was fabulous. Hawkins is a stickler for discipline and not the kind of man who William warms to, and it's certainly not one that I warmed to, but I think his depiction was very well crafted and believable — after all, you are not meant to like all of the characters!
From ciphers to murders to plots thwarted, this book is a historical thriller reader's dream. I cannot get enough of this series or these characters. Walker is, without a doubt, a master at his craft. Historical Thrillers do not get better than this.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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A Necessary Killing
Paul Walker inherited his love of British history and historical fiction from his mother who was an active member of the Richard III Society.
State of Treason is the first in a planned series of Elizabethan spy thrillers. The plot is based around real characters and events in London of the 1570’s. The hero, William Constable, is an astrologer and also a sceptic. He is also a mathematician, astronomer and inventor of a navigational aid for ships. The distinction between astrology and astronomy was blurred in the sixteenth century.
The second book in the series will be published in October 2019.
Paul is married and lives in a village 30 miles north of London. His writing is regularly disrupted by children and a growing number of grandchildren and dogs.
Connect with Paul: Twitter.
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See you on your next coffee break!
Mary Anne xxx