The theatres are padlocked. Christmas has been cancelled. It is 1657, and the unloved English Republic is eight years old. Though Cromwell's joyless grip on power appears immovable, many still look to Charles Stuart's dissolute and threadbare court-in-exile, and some are prepared to risk their lives plotting a restoration. For the officers of the Republic, constant vigilance is needed. So, when the bloody corpse of a Royalist spy is discovered in a small Essex village, why is the local magistrate so reluctant to investigate?
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It is December 1657. John Grey, at his cramped desk in Lincoln's Inn, is attempting to resume his legal career. A mysterious message from a "Mr SK" tempts him out into the snowy streets of London and to what he believes will be a harmless diversion from his studies. Mr SK's letter proves to have been intended for somebody else entirely, and Grey finds himself unwittingly in the middle of a plot to assassinate the Lord Protector - a plot about which he now knows more than it is safe to know.