Five years after Charles II's triumphant return to London there is
growing mistrust of his extravagant court and of corruption among
his officials - and when a cart laden with gunpowder explodes
outside the General Letter Office, it is immediately clear that
such an act is more than an expression of outrage at the
inefficiency of the postal service. As intelligencer to the Lord
Chamberlain, Thomas Chaloner cannot understand why a man of known
incompetence is put in charge of investigating the attack while he
is diverted to make enquiries about the poisoning of birds in the
King's aviary in St James's Park. He becomes even more suspicious
of his employer's motives when he discovers that the witnesses he
needs to interview have close links to the business conducted in
the General Letter Office, activities more firmly centred on
intercepting people's mail than delivering it. Then human rather
than avian victims are poisoned, and Chaloner knows he has to
ignore his master's instructions and use his own considerable wits
to defeat an enemy whose deadly tentacles reach into the very heart
of the government: an enemy who has the power and expertise to
destroy anyone who stands in the way ...
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