Thomas's friend Ben Mallam, the streetwise jingler (a dealer in used horses) returns to aid him. After a run of bad luck, perhaps Ben's fortunes will change as he helps Thomas unravel a deadly plot which strikes at the very heart of Tudor England, threatening the security of the nation itself.
1600: A new century dawns. War with Spain has dragged on for 15 years, the conflict in Ireland for six. Unease stalks England in the dying years of Elizabeth I’s reign, and Elizabethan intelligencer Martin Marbeck is bored. Then a message from his spymaster, Sir Robert Cecil, arrives: the existence of a spy has been discovered, code-named Morera, and Marbeck must uncover the true identity of this traitor quickly, before rumours of the young King Philip III forming a new Armada prove themselves to be true.
1596. Sir Robert Vicary is to host an important guest, Grigori Stanic, the ambassador of distant Muscovy, and Thomas the Falconer is called on to entertain the Russian party. The ambassador is to make a magnificent gift to Boris Godunov, brother-in-law to the feeble Tsar Feodor: A priceless gold chain. But no sooner has it arrived than it is stolen. So begins Thomas hunt for The Muscovy Chain...
Autumn, 1671. War looms with Holland, while discontent grows with England’s dissolute monarch, Charles II. Meanwhile, Betsy Brand, celebrated actress with the Duke’s Theatre, has a predicament. Beset by financial troubles, she is obliged to leave London and undertake a dangerous venture as a spy for her country. What starts out as a fact-finding mission to the Low Countries soon turns into a deadly game, in which Betsy must use all her acting skills.
In 1670, in the turbulent time following the Great Fire, a series of chilling murders shakes Restoration London. All are linked to the new Dorset Gardens Theatre where feisty young Betsy Brand is playing First Witch in Macbeth. It seems that a shadowy figure called The Salamander, who haunted London during the Fire, has returned to wreak cruel revenge on his enemies. With the authorities utterly baffled, Betsy takes on a new role as an investigator.