Five years after Charles II's triumphant return there is growing mistrust of his extravagant court - 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 postal service.
As intelligencer to the Lord Chamberlain, Thomas Chaloner cannot understand why an incompetent man is put in charge of the investigation while he is diverted to make enquiries about the poisoning of birds in the King's aviary in St James's Park. Then human rather than avian victims are poisoned, and Chaloner knows he has to use his own considerable wits to defeat an enemy whose deadly tentacles reach into the very heart of the government....
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