BUTCHERY OUTSIDE A LONDON BROTHEL HAS WESTFIELD'S MEN IN DISARRAY.
The axe murder of gentleman player Sebastian Carrick is only the first of many bitter blows to strike the celebrated acting troupe. Feuds blossom among players. A rival company launches a new hit. A mysterious beauty reduces leading player Lawrence Firethorn to a lovelorn wreck. Rumors of the declining health of Good Queen Bess are heard everywhere, and matters become so fraught that even a performing horse becomes a threat to the troubled troupe.
In such straits only one man has the wit to keep the company afloat--stage manager and company mainstay Nicholas Bracewell. And as Her Gracious Majesty sinks toward death, only clever Nicholas can discern the connection between the troupe's misfortunes and the shadow that is falling all over England....