In this second installment of Clements's new historical-thriller series, Queen Elizabeth I is ambushed by masked gunmen who leave her carriage riddled with holes before disappearing into the night. The Queen's Private Secretary Sir Francis Walsingham is tasked with finding the perpetrators while Catholic Spain further intrudes into the Low Countries.
You don’t need to be familiar with its predecessor to enjoy this account of the efforts of the Tudor court’s spymaster, Francis Walsingham, to protect his monarch from a cunning band of assassins. But those who’ve already read The Eyes of the Queen will be primed for the reappearance of Walsingham’s very reluctant (and very impecunious) agent ... Along the way, Clements will use what he calls 'the bit parts' and 'turning points' of 16th-century English history to anchor his playful speculations.
... the diplomacy becomes both rather too easy and overly complicated. Throw in a subplot about a beautiful look-alike to Elizabeth, and this tale becomes as implausible as an offer to purchase Tower Bridge. Nevertheless, The Queen’s Men is good fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. With the intricacy of a Rube Goldberg watch, the narrative only intermittently embraces historical accuracy or reality. Yet you keep reading, because you want to know how the thing manages to keep ticking away.
Set in 1577, Clements’s exciting sequel to 2020’s The Eyes of the Queen vividly recreates the cloak-and-dagger intrigues of the Elizabethan era ... Clements smoothly blends a fast-paced plot with evocative period detail. S.J. Parris fans will be pleased.