Theatre owner Richard Burbage has commissioned poet, playwright, rakehell, and Her Majesty’s ace intelligencer, Christopher Marlowe to investigate the murder of an obscure would-be dramatist named William Shakespeare. In the course of his inquiries, Marlowe incurs the deadly wrath of an arrogant aristocrat, as well as the hatred of malevolent necromancer Edward Kelley – who seeks to distract Marlowe from his investigation by tempting him with a sensual succuba. And ever lurking in the shadows of crime-riddled Elizabethan London is Marlowe’s implacable enemy, Ingram Frizer, who hopes to collect the bounty on the poet’s head.
As he plunges into the bizarre twistings of the case, Marlowe encounters a mysterious time voyager calling himself Arthur Gordon Pym, a master of ratiocination and cryptography. Together they stalk the mean streets and alleyways of London, encountering cutpurses, cutthroats, gamblers, and whores, while Marlowe endeavors to assist Pym in finding a cure for his wife dying of consumption – in 1845. Aided by Carter Paxton, Father Tranquillus, and Sir Ralph Oldcastle, Marlowe and Pym pursue an elusive assassin who hunts graveyards and saves lives for his own enigmatic reasons. But while the private intelligencer stalks Shakespeare’s murderer, Marlowe is plagued by the crucial question – Does Shakespeare’s murderer stalk him?