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Shakespeare & Beyond

Excerpt - The Assassin of Verona by Benet Brandreth

The Assassin of Verona
The Assassin of Verona

The Assassin of VeronaIn Benet Brandreth’s historical thriller The Assassin of Verona, William Shakespeare is disguised as a steward to the English ambassador in 1586 Venice.

He and his actor friends Oldcastle and Hemminges possess a deadly secret: the names of Catholic spies in England who seek to destroy Queen Elizabeth.

This excerpt finds the fictional Shakespeare weighing his options: return to England (and to his family in Stratford), or remain in Venice near the woman he loves, but with the pope’s agents closing in?

William sprang from his seat and plucked the wine glass from a protesting Oldcastle’s hands and held it out to Hemminges.

‘Wine, Hemminges, food beyond measure.’ He gestured at the window beyond which could be seen the Canal Grande. ‘A city of golden wonders beyond these walls. Leave this for England? We were a ragged crew there, Hemminges, or have you forgot? You’d have us fly from paradise to purgatory. That is not the normal order of things.’

‘This is not paradise, William.’ Hemminges shook his head. ‘This is Eden and that business with the Tiepolo brothers is the eviction notice already posted on the gate. Our time here cannot last. The only way to stay here forever is to be buried here.’

‘Better dead in Venice than half-life in England.’

‘Boastful words. Have we not received word from England that we must return and explanation make? Do we not owe a duty? Does our pardon not lie in safely bringing back our intelligence? Have you forgot that we must take back to England the names of the papal spies?’