A Tip for the Hangman: A Novel (Paperback)
England, 1585. In Kit Marlowe's last year at Cambridge, he is approached by Queen Elizabeth's spymaster offering an unorthodox career opportunity: going undercover to intercept a Catholic plot to put Mary, Queen of Scots on Elizabeth's throne. Spying on Queen Mary turns out to be more than Kit bargained for, but his salary allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years he becomes the toast of London's raucous theater scene. But when Kit finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the world of espionage and treason, he realizes everything he's worked so hard to attain—including the trust of the man he loves—could vanish in an instant.
Pairing modern language with period detail, Allison Epstein brings Elizabeth's lavish court, Marlowe's colorful theater troupe, and the squalor of sixteenth-century London to vivid, teeming life. At the center of the action is Kit himself—an irrepressible, irreverent force of nature.
“A clever concoction of genres, with a generous helping of historical fiction, espionage, class critique, and theatrical flair. . . Epstein vividly conjures up the world of Elizabethan theater . . . and adds on top a genuinely compelling spy story, creating an exuberant, irreverent romp.” —Crime Reads
“Epstein presents Marlowe as supremely capable, something of a trickster, a consummate liar, a fiendish lover—and someone capable of murder . . . The suspense is palpable. . . . Epstein breathes life into a celebrated figure.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This fizzy debut is a Tudor espionage tale, set among spies close to Mary, Queen of Scots. One of them is Christopher Marlowe, whose spy work bankrolls a rather promising theater career.” —The Chicago Tribune, 25 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021
“Draws you into a morally convoluted world of spies, treason, politics, romance and murder. With a witty, captivating protagonist and fast-paced adventure, it’s the sort of book you should never pick up before bedtime lest you look out the window to see the sun rising. This is easily one of 2021’s best historical fiction books to date.” —The Michigan Daily
“Thrilling and romantic. . . . Epstein successfully evokes both the beauty and the brutality of 16th-century England.” —Historical Novel Society
“Epstein’s diverting debut gallivants through Elizabethan England. . . . A fun escapade.” —Publishers Weekly