A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein
Genre: Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
View on Goodreads
England, 1585. In Kit Marlowe’s last year at Cambridge, he receives an unexpected visitor: Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, who has come with an unorthodox career opportunity. Her Majesty’s spies are in need of new recruits, and Kit’s flexible moral compass has drawn their attention. Kit, a scholarship student without money or prospects, accepts the offer, and after his training the game is on. Kit is dispatched to the chilly manor where Mary, Queen of Scots is under house arrest, to act as a servant in her household and keep his ear to the ground for a Catholic plot to put Mary on the throne.
While observing Mary, Kit learns more than he bargained for. The ripple effects of his service to the Crown are far-reaching and leave Kit a changed man. But there are benefits as well. The salary he earns through his spywork allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years, he becomes the toast of London’s raucous theatre scene. But when Kit finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the uncertain world of espionage, conspiracy, and high treason, he realizes everything he’s worked so hard to attain–including the trust of the man he loves–could vanish before his very eyes.
OHMYGOSH THIS BOOK THIS BOOK THIS BOOK! I *loved* this book!
A Tip for the Hangman is The Scarlett Pimpernel meets Wolf Hall meets Hamilton. It’s irreverent, exciting, sexy, and utterly heartbreaking. I was in love with Kit as both a narrator and a character, delighted by his quick wit and sarcastic sense of humor, engrossed in his adventures as a spy, and desperate for the book to end, somehow, happily. But if you know Marlowe’s story you know a happy ending was never in the cards. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.