In 1593, London's most popular poet and playwright was stabbed to death. The royal coroner ruled that Christopher Marlowe was killed in self-defense, but historians have long suspected otherwise, given his role as an "intelligencer" in the Queen's secret service.
This novel has interlocking narratives. The one that takes place in the present, features Kate Morgan, a Renaissance scholar, who works for a private investigative firm that doubles as an off-the-books U.S. intelligence unit. As she is trying to discover why someone is willing to kill for a 16th-century manuscript that is written in code, we are taken back to 1593 where we learn that the pages were intelligence reports compiled by Thomas Phelippes, a spymaster for Elizabeth I. The chapters alternate between the two time periods and the mysteries intersect and unfold together. The author is herself a Harvard graduate, Renaissance literature scholar, and private investigator. This was a fascinating blend of Elizabethan espionage and modern intrigue. And the author had two surprises at the end--one from each setting. I love it when a writer makes me drop my jaw!
The idea for the eye peeking through came from the cover. I went to the author's website and found the page of Elizabethan code. I was able to get a very controlled burn to "age" the edges and create the hole by using an incense stick. The first time I tried this, I just used a match, and even though I had made a damp line beyond where I wanted the burn to stop, it burned more than I intended. The incense stick worked great, although it took time and patience.
I first painted the left page with Apple Barrel "Sandstone" paint. After it was very dry, I laid down masking tape about 3/4" from the edge and painted the border and the entire right page with Delta Ceramcoat "Black Cherry." I had not burnished the edges of the tape because I wanted the paint to creep under just a bit and give a ragged look. After writing the review, I painted my hand with the red paint to make a "bloody" handprint, and flicked on a few drops of "blood." I love this spread, although one of my friends upon seeing it said, "You're weird!"