The Serpent’s Mark is a mystery tale set in England in the 1590s. It is a story of conspiracy, religious zealotry, plot and murder.

If you have read the first book in this series, The Angel’s Mark, you will be already familiar with the main characters of Dr Nicholas Shelby and Bianca Merton. Bianca is an Italian lady who runs The Jackdaw Tavern in London and who is also an apothecary. There are some real historical figures that feature in the book too, such as Robert Cecil, the spymaster for Queen Elizabeth I, and Christopher Marlowe, the playwright. I found the inclusion of these characters gave the story some weight and a feeling of authenticity. A lot of the plot centres around the Jackdaw and the Southwark area of London and we find that both Bianca and Nicholas have had previous bad experiences when it comes to Robert Cecil. I have not read the first book in this series, but it did not seem to spoil my enjoyment of this one as the author refers back to it a lot, so do not be put off reading this if you have not read it either.

The plot of The Serpent’s Mark revolves around a rather dodgy Swiss doctor that Robert Cecil asks Dr Shelby to check up on as a favour for a relative of his who is suspicious of his methods. Doctor Arcampora, it seems, is a bit of a charlatan and his rather dubious practices and other ideas not only endanger the life of one particular patient but also threaten to overthrow the English queen.

The book is easy to read and it does seem to be well researched, but I did find some of the language a bit trite, for instance, there is even a ‘hey nonny’ in there somewhere. Also, I found some of the plot a bit laboured and over explained and so I found it pretty easy to guess what was going to happen next and how the story would develop. But having said that, this is not a bad read and I did enjoy it. I would recommend this as a nice relaxing holiday book because it is easy to dip in and out of as and when you want to.

Sara Boorman 3/3

The Serpent’s Mark by S.W. Perry
Corvus 9781786494962 hbk Jun 2019