Spotlight on Treason by James Jackson

We are close to Bonfire Night already so today I am hosting an extract of  the explosive Treason, by James Jackson:
Title: Treason
Author: James Jackson
Published: October 17th 2017 by Zaffre

Blurb: For fans of Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell, this pulse-racing and dramatic new thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author James Jackson sheds new light on one of the most dramatic events in British history.

Behind the famous rhyme lies a murderous conspiracy that goes far beyond Guy Fawkes and his ill-fated Gunpowder Plot...

In a desperate race against time, spy Christian Hardy must uncover a web of deceit that runs from the cock-fighting pits of Shoe Lane, to the tunnels beneath a bear-baiting arena in Southwark, and from the bad lands of Clerkenwell to a brutal firefight in The Globe theatre.

But of the forces ranged against Hardy, all pale beside the renegade Spanish agent codenamed Realm.

'There is no-one today writing fictionalised history, backed by ferocious research, like James Jackson. With his latest, Treason, he has done it again and the reading lamp just burns on through the night...' Frederick Forsyth


  Young men laughed raucous at their tables as Christian Hardy nursed his pot of ale and swallowed back the memories and the worries for his son.  Regret could stay forever undigested.  He had been a poor father, absent and immersed in intelligence and war, afraid to touch the life of a little boy whose mother he loved and by default had destroyed.  Adam grew and the pair moved apart.  The sense of loss was keenest when he spied the youth and fellowship of others.

  It was the third night of waiting at the inn beside Tyburn.  Rain must have slowed his lieutenant or a hundred varied factors that could make an operative disappear.  The weather outside churned the gravel and mud and added to the melancholy.  This was the site of public execution and the stalking ground for ghosts, the place where paths and destinies converged and crowds and tumbrils gathered.  He had sent sufficient on that route.

  A spray of water and evaporating dampness announced the arrival of his man.  He was wearied and mud-spattered and slumped in a chair without recourse to speech.  The great north road was a punishing trek.  Hardy ordered beer.  They sat in silence, perusing each other and taking in the warmth and breathing air thick with the fumes of tallow and sea coal and tobacco.

  Finally the visitor reached in a leather pouch and withdrew a sheet of paper folded in waxed canvas.  He passed it over.

  Hardy slit the binding and spread the page to read.  In the candlelight emerged a list, names copied from a register of those who once attended St Peter’s School in York.  A cradle of militant Catholicism. Proof stared out and a fleeting hunch was realised.  Jack Wright had drawn attention to himself by stepping in the fencing-ring and betrayed his intentions through his arrogance and pride.  Now his childhood was identified.  Another name was here, Guy Fawkes scratched in ink like the rest, a boy that would later fight for Spain and against the interests of England.  Fawkes and Wright shared common heritage and cause and gave clue to their direction.

  Donning his cloak, Hardy thanked the man and left.  In the threads of thought spooling in his mind were captured other persons linked by blood and faith to the two already unmasked.  Security dictated they would keep their enterprise tight, would not build alliances far from the core.  He was glad it would limit the casualties.

  A severed head confronted him, hung from a tree as a warning or taunt or gesture of intent.  It was difficult to gauge motive with Realm.  The intelligencer stayed in the saddle and studied the object lit by a lantern hung adjacent on a branch.  Again the renegade had miscalculated.  In slaying the agent who had tailed Jack Wright, he showed his hand too early and his investment in conspiracy.  Gunpowder would be the vehicle for their murderous ambition.  Hardy gently eased the item from its resting place and snuffed out the lamp.  Let the bodies fall where they may.

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