From Chapter 1

"The last two days had been a whirlwind of surprising and fortuitous events. As she left the British Library to join a crowd making their weary way down the stairs of the King's Cross underground station, she realized that actually the past few weeks had brought irreversible changes to her life.

The sound of a horn in the distance startled her out of memory mode into the real world of push and shove towards the door of the underground train.  As she jumped on, there was a jostling movement to her left and she felt her arm tugged violently.  Pain shot through to her collarbone.  As the door closed she was knocked to her knees, where she began to frantically search for her belongings.  In a panic she realized her laptop was missing. 

Someone was trying to help her to a seat, and as she scanned the platform, all she could see was a blur. A wave of pain hit her, as she sunk into the hard seat.  The person hovering over her was speaking urgently but Sarah couldn't concentrate.  Over and over she whispered,

            "My laptop, my laptop...please help me get it back!"

From Chapter 5

."..she sat bolt upright, as a scrap of memory vividly returned.  In her mind's eye she saw herself jumping up onto the Underground, something she had never done on any subway.  It was as if she had actually been lifted and shoved at the same moment.  That was no accident!  Her laptop and purse had dropped from each shoulder with the impact, but whoever had done the lifting had not wanted her purse.  The laptop was on her left shoulder and as she was lifted up, she was pushed to the right, so someone could have grabbed the laptop from her left arm as she fell to her knees.  It had been calculated!  Her hands began to shake and she felt a chill run through her body.  She shivered. Why would anyone want her laptop so badly?  It wasn't an expensive model, a dinosaur as laptops went.  Someone had wanted the information it contained!"

From Chapter 13


Teaser Passages

Book One: The Hands Behind Shakespeare's Pen

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To Pluck a Crow

"Mary Sidney Herbert is a favourite of mine.  I think of her as a Renaissance woman, ahead of her time and so very interested in everything about her.  I think had she been alive today I would have very much wanted to know her!  You are not the first to show a keen interest in her literary achievements and I am afraid that there have also been those who took their curiosity too far.  Some four weeks ago, we noticed that our most comprehensive book on the Herbert family of which she was a vital part, had gone missing.  I should say, it had been stolen.  What could make a person think that knowledge can be kept to oneself, or in some way be hidden and secreted away? Ah well,  ' The truth will out in the end '. The good news is I found a copy of the very book at a thrift shop right here in Salisbury, which I quickly bought and donated to replace the one lost from our collection.  It is now securely on the shelf and let's go now to see The Herberts of Wilton."

From Chapter 24

"In the meantime, to assuage her brother's broken heart, Mary decided she had to again take up her quill pen in an attempt at an ironic 'comedy'.  She would not insult Philip's feelings by a play which ended in wedded bliss.  No.  Instead she wrote of the disasters of courtship when true love was not its aim.  She had titled her play "Love's Labour's Lost," and had created characters sure to be dear to Philip's heart.  The King of Navarre became a key character in the play, because the actual King Henry of Navarre, had befriended Philip years earlier when her brother made his European tour.  During Henry's later years as King of France, he would be known to vacillate between Protestantism, in deference to his mother, and the Catholicism he had been baptized into, in deference to his much-loved Catholic mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrees. Henry, throughout his life, exhibited a remarkable religious tolerance, which would allow his spiritually diversified subjects to finally live in peace."

...a novel of literary fiction coming soon...