A former British journalist who changed career to become a pilot, S.W. Perry is now a writer, the author of the historical crime series known as The Jackdaw Mysteries or the Nicholas Shelby series.
Set in Elizabethan London, it focuses on the idealistic physician named Nicholas Shelby and Bianca Merton, the mysterious mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, and a fellow healer. They first investigate murders but Shelby becomes a reluctant spy working for the Queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil. Murders, treason, and conspiracy theories, it’s a different life for Nicholas Shelby during a turbulent period.
How To Read The Nicholas Shelby Series in Order?
Every novel in the Nicholas Shelby book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one book to the other.
- The Angel’s Mark (2018) – London, 1590: Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain. When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London. Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper. As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible-to save Bianca, or save himself.
- The Serpent’s Mark (2019) – London, 1591: Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself. With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a sinister world of zealots, charlatans, and dangerous fanatics.
- The Saracen’s Mark (2020) – London, 1593: Five years on from the Armada and England is taking its first faltering steps towards a future as a global power. Nicholas Shelby-reluctant spy and maverick physician-and his companion Bianca Merton are settling into a life on Bankside. But in London there is always a plot afoot . . . Robert Cecil, the Queen’s spymaster, once again recruits Nicholas to embark on a dangerous undercover mission that will take him to the back alleys of Marrakech in search of a missing informer. However, while Nicholas hunts for the truth across the seas, plague returns once more to London-ravaging the streets and threatening those dearest to him. Can Bianca and Nicholas’ budding relationship weather the threats of pestilence and conspiracy? And will Nicholas survive the dangers of his mission in a hostile city to return safely home?
- The Heretic’s Mark (2021) – London, 1594. The Queen’s physician has been executed for treason, and conspiracy theories flood the streets. When Nicholas Shelby, unorthodox physician and unwilling associate of spymaster Robert Cecil, is accused of being part of the plot, he and his new wife Bianca must flee for their lives. With agents of the Crown on their tail, they make for Padua, following the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena. But the pursuing English aren’t the only threat Nicholas and Bianca face. Hella, a strange and fervently religious young woman, has joined them on their journey. When the trio finally reach relative safety, they become embroiled in a radical and dangerous scheme to shatter the old world’s limits of knowledge.
- The Rebel’s Mark (2022) – 1598. Nicholas Shelby, unorthodox physician and reluctant spy for Robert Cecil, has brought his wife Bianca and their child home from exile in Padua. Welcome at court, his star is in the ascendancy. But he has returned to a dangerous world. Two old enemies are approaching their final reckoning. England and Spain are exhausted by war. In London, Elizabeth is entering the twilight of her reign. In Madrid, King Philip of Spain is dying. Perhaps now is the time for one last throw of the dice.
- The Sinner’s Mark (2023) – Treason, heresy and revolt in Queen Elizabeth’s England . . . The year is 1600. With a dying queen on the throne, war raging on the high seas and famine on the rise, England is on the brink of chaos. And in London’s dark alleyways, a conspiracy is brewing. In the court’s desperate bid to silence it, an innocent man is found guilty – the father of Nicholas Shelby, physician and spy. As Nicholas races against time to save his father, he and his wife Bianca are drawn into the center of a treacherous plot against the queen. When one of Shakespeare’s boy actors goes missing, and Bianca discovers a disturbing painting that could be a clue, she embarks on her own investigation. Meanwhile, as Nicholas comes closer to unveiling the real conspirator, the men who wish to silence him are multiplying. When he stumbles on a plan to overthrow the state and replace it with a terrifying new order, he may be forced to decide between his country and his heart . . .