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The mysterious Simon Chaloner appears at the Queen's Head Pub following a performance by Lord Westfield's Men, a leading Elizabethan company of players. Then Chaloner follows producer Nicholas Bracewell and playwright Edmund Hoode home and gives them each a manuscript called The Roaring Boy, a drama based on events surrounding the murder of a mathematician.
When Bracewell and Hoode stage the play, the performance causes a riot, sending Hoode to prison. In order to save his men, Bracewell must solve two murders—one being that on which the play is based. Brimful of period and theatrical detail, this seventh-in-series novel won a 1996 Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination.