Excerpt from The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Spy of Venice

A William Shakespeare Mystery

by Benet Brandreth

The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth X
The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Aug 2018, 448 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

When Hunt finally spoke it was as the angry wheezing of steam from cracks in the earth. 'You know full well of what we speak, Shakespeare. This is the fruit of the untrammelled licence of which I spoke at the play. Where is your boy?'

For William, the silence that followed Hunt's demand opened wide as a snare. He knew he had been more burden to his father of late than aid. To defy Lucy, even in the pompous form of his steward Hunt, was no minor matter. William realized he was holding his breath.

'I think you are mistaken, Master Hunt,' John said. 'My son could not have been poaching as you suggest for he has been here at his work all night.'

Hunt made a wet sound of incredulity.

'You doubt me, sir?' John demanded. 'With what reason?' There was a cold timbre to John Shakespeare's voice.

'I know it was him,' Hunt said.

'You did not see him, did not catch him and it is clear by your choice of words that this girl has made no confession,' John Shakespeare responded. 'Who is she? Some scullery maid full of fine fancies?'

'She is no such thing …' Hunt's voice trailed off.

John said nothing but let the silence grow. William thought his moment ripe.

'How now, Father? Master Hunt.'

William's voice was light as he emerged from the back room and laid cut leather, hastily gathered from the storeroom, upon the counter.

'Whelp, what mischief have you performed?' said Hunt.

William feigned confusion and astonishment at Hunt's question.

'I, sir?'

'Don't play the fool with me, boy,' said Hunt.

'I never play, sir,' William said, 'though I have tried my hand as a player …'

'You have tried to seduce -' Even as he sought to cut William off, Hunt's voice trailed away at the thought of acknowledging out loud his shame. '- that which I would keep most safe from such as you,' he finished.

William raised an eyebrow. 'Some kind of treasure? A jewel of some kind?'

'Far more than that,' said Hunt.

'A magical item, then,' said William. 'A golden fleece!'

'What?' spluttered Hunt.

William leaned across the counter towards Hunt. 'You should take great care of such things, Master Hunt. For you will find that many Jasons come in quest of the prize and a fleece will not guard itself. It needs a good guard dog.'

'Enough, William,' the older Shakespeare cut his son off.

John Shakespeare turned to Hunt. 'It's clear that you make your accusations without foundation. I say again, my son was at his work all night. Here.'

Hunt made no immediate reply. There were further rumblings from deep within the massy torso. Heat spread up his face. He leaned in and rested meaty hands on the counter, which creaked beneath the weight.

'Very well, very well. This is to be the game?'

He pointed an eloquent finger at the father and son, then turned to leave; no speedy process for so large a man. Eventually the barge of his body turned. As Hunt passed through the door he gave no backward glance but simply repeated his promise from the play.

'I'll not be mocked.'

The grim-visaged gamekeepers followed after.

The slap of his father's hand on the counter snatched William's smile away.

'What has passed here?' his father demanded.

William drew breath to answer but could not speak before his father slapped the counter again.

'Mark you, not one false word. Not one. By God, William, you try me.'

His hand fluttered on the counter where it lay. William could not take his eye from its twitching.

Excerpted from The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth, published by Pegasus Books. © Benet Brandreth. Reprinted with permission from the publisher. All other rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: In Byron's Wake
    In Byron's Wake
    by Miranda Seymour
    It's tempting to think that our age of celebrity worship coupled with the 24-hour news cycle is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Latecomers
    The Latecomers
    by Helen Klein Ross
    The Latecomers is the third novel written by acclaimed author Helen Klein Ross, following What Was ...
  • Book Jacket: The Inflamed Mind
    The Inflamed Mind
    by Edward Bullmore
    It is common knowledge that depression diminishes the quality of sufferers' lives, but few people ...
  • Book Jacket: The Adults
    The Adults
    by Caroline Hulse
    Things have already fallen apart on the first page of The Adults. The novel opens with an emergency ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

As atmospheric, tense, and explosive as her New York Times bestselling debut, The Dry!

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Golden Child
    by Claire Adam

    A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Uncommon Type

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks

Surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and a must-have for Tom Hanks fans!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

Tell I T T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.