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

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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
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  • Published:
    Aug 2018, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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Print Excerpt

'This is ill done,' his father said.

'It's just a game,' William replied.

He took a step back at the flare that lit in his father's eye.

'What has passed here?' his father repeated.

In hurried words William explained all. When he finished his father's hot eye had been replaced with a pale-faced tremor.

'You have brought disaster on us,' he said.

'That fat fool Hunt has no grounds for accusation,' William protested. 'You said so yourself. 'Sides, what retribution there may be will fall on me.'

'Why? Why do you think that?' John Shakespeare asked. 'You think that Sir Thomas will stand by and see his steward mocked in his own home? The steward's own daughter, by Jesu. You think his eye will fall only on a wayward, unmannerly boy and not on the family that bred him?'

John Shakespeare continued to speak over William's attempt to protest.

'You think Sir Thomas will trouble himself that the evidence of malefaction does not sit in his hand? He will reach out and grab what he needs and damn all those caught in his grasp.'

'You overplay this, Father,' said William.

'It is not I that has overplayed my hand, William. And with what stakes. That is the worst of it.' The anger in his voice faded and he placed his head in his hands. 'Selfish child. You brought the enmity of powerful men upon our family for some sordid tumble with a lovestruck girl.'

William saw that his father was crying. He looked away. He could not remember when he had seen that last.

'I had such high hopes,' John said. 'Yet you take your God-given talents and squander them on petty revenges.'


'Did you not think of your wife? Of her shame if the town comes to hear how you treat your vows? Of your mother's anger at your weakness of will? Of what follows for the girl?'

William was silent. He had not thought of these things. He had thought only of the cleverness of his vengeance and his excitement at the chase.

'Sir Thomas is bound to seize on this,' John Shakespeare said.

'Why? Why should he do so?' asked William.

'God's sake, William,' his father answered. 'Enough with your endless whys. What does it matter why? It is enough to know he will.'

'If we knew his reasons we might work on them.'


'Think, Father.'

'Get out,' John demanded.

'Sir, please.'

"Get out,' repeated his father. 'Think? I can think of only one remedy. You must leave Stratford.'

'No,' said William.

'You will have to,' his father said. 'To stay here will only bring the malice of Hunt upon you and your family.'

'How can I?'

'How can you not?' said John Shakespeare. 'Didn't you think of this? You who always seem to have everything so well planned. Go. Get out.'

But it was not William that left the shop. His father stirred himself and, in his distraction forgetting his gloves, exited, the door closing on a muttered wish: 'I must go and see what may be done.'

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.

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