Assassination, by Steven Veerapen

Emma-Jane Betts

Book Three of the Elizabethan Spy Thriller series.
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Humour and heart-racing tension are brought to the forefront as author Steven Veerapen concludes his Elizabethan spy thriller series with Assassination, a story packed with plot twists amid a compelling and fully realised historical backdrop. Following the journey of English spy and thief Ned Savage, as he unravels conspiracies and parliament disputes, Veerapen brings a strong conclusion to the historical crime series, offering a fast-paced and intriguing story to satisfy mystery and history lovers alike.

The year is 1606 and England is still reeling from the effects of the failed Powder Plot of the previous year, resulting in a heavy atmosphere of religious conflict, backstabbers and schemers running throughout the country. Tensions continue to rise as rumours of the arrival of the notorious Italian killer, Locusta, take hold, forcing Robert Cecil to employ seasoned spy Ned Savage to intervene. Savage soon finds himself entangled in a complex web of plots, planned theatre assassinations and facing the secret society, the Brotherhood of Augustus, who seem hell-bent on avenging the previous year’s failed terrorist plot. Through a charismatic protagonist paired with a fresh and unpredictable plot, Veerapen’s novel successfully evokes a strong sense of compelling mystery and drama, perfectly weaving in the rich historical context of Elizabethan England.

Assassination is a prime example of good writing paired with solid pacing, easily pulling readers through its 17th century narrative. Veerapen masterfully dismantles the clichés that plague historic fiction novelists by keeping readers at the edge of their seat and steering clear of verbose language and dull descriptions of great halls. Instead, Assassination focuses on plot, driving the action with thrilling scenes and dry humour, making the novel hard to put down. Opening straight away with conflict amongst the Lords of parliament, then jumping to a graphic dream drenched in fire before leading into chase sequences and murderous confrontations, Veerapen makes sure readers are never bored. With its enduring characters, compelling structure and above all unique story, it marks itself as a standout amongst other titles seen in the genre today. Each chapter is filled with exciting scenes and feels somewhat modern, akin to an engaging TV show with strong cinematic moments and intriguing storylines that keep you coming back for more.

One of the novels most striking features is its vivid descriptions and historical lens of London. From the inns, theatre troupes and busy streets the novel is a well of well-read knowledge that transports readers back in time with its detailed setting. Veerapen recreates London’s layered landscape, writing a variety of detailed characters engaging in different dialects, representing the class structure and diverse microcosm that still exists in the city today. From cockney innkeepers to the pompous lords, Assassination feels incredibly realistic and relatable, despite being set centuries ago.

Steven Veerapen successfully combines a refreshing story with one of the most engaging periods of English history. Assassination is a perfect conclusion to the trilogy and firmly consolidates Veerapen’s position as one of historical fiction’s most exciting writers.