As the title tells you, this is the first of a Tudor mystery series with John Shakespeare in the leading role of one of Queen Elizabeth I`s spies in her secret service. Although Sansom in „Dissolution“ has treated the conflict between the Catholics and Protestants during Henry VIII`s reign very extensively, Clements tries to do the same for the Elizabethan times. And, even more than Sansom, he basks in the gory details of torture and untimely death. But his young hero definitely is more attractive than the hunchback Shardlake, if not as cunny. For most of the book Shakespeare acts more like a victim than a successful pursuer. So all in all you find yourself witnessing a sadistic and masochistic view of life, which is not too endearing. The plot in a nutshell is that Shakespeare must find the killer who is supposed to murder Sir Francis Drake before the „sea dragon“ can set sail to destroy the Spanish fleet. An interesting detail in the story is the fact, that the Queen cannot make up her mind, neither killing Mary, Queen of Scots, nor letting Drake and his fleet do their job. So others have to make the necessary decisions. I do not think I will want to follow John Shakespeare on his next 5 adventures.