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Full Name: William Constable
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Other - Doctor

Creator: Paul Walker
Time Span: 2019 - 2019


William Constable is a physician - and an astrologer.

That is a very unusual combination today, or at least I would imagine few doctors of medicine would endeavor to see both profession placed on their shingle outside their place of business. But the period of time Constable plies his trade(s), the middle of the second half of the 1570s, apparently that was not such a peculiarity.

The one thing that Constable would never willingly add to that list of vocations is 'spy' so when we watch him be pushed into that very type of work, it is important to tack on the adjective of 'reluctant'. He gets involved in the machinations and deceits of the Private Secretary to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth (the I, obviously), Sir Francis Walsingham, only because that man, who also functioned as an unofficial but still powerful spymaster, called for him and if so directed, nobody in England could afford to refuse.

Constable is a former pupil and then assistant to the noted (at the time) astrologer Doctor John Dee who gained much favor with the monarch for a time (always for a time with her) and learned his star-gazing-and-predicting skills from him a decade before we first meet Constable but apparently they had a falling out and Constable is on his own when a Captain in the Guard comes knocking on Constable's door to take him to see Walsingham. Constable was not in the calmest state of mind when so summoned.

I should add to Constable's lists of expertises mathematics for that is what he started with and is his greatest love. It apparently did not pay the bills that well so he added astrologer to the mix long ago and then a bit later added medicine. "My first love is the subtle mathematics of the heavenly bodies, but have set this aside in favour of the clamour for healing. A reading of the stars is undoubtedly beneficial to treatments, and I possess sufficient vanity to suppose that my ministrations will be more effective than many other physicians I know."

Constable's initial use to the royal spymaster is that of an expert needed to examine and comment on an item that Walshingham's agents had obtained - the previous owner no longer breathing so no longer needing it. But that is just the first step for the examination will lead to yet something else to help the powerful man, an additional piece of investigation that will require far more subterfuge and guile than the good doctor was expecting. Subsequently, Constable would learn that once you proved useful to a man like Walsingham, he never ever forgot you, especially when he needed something else.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2019
Last Appearance:2019

1 State of Treason State of Treason
Written by Paul Walker
Copyright: 2019

The year is 1578.
"William Constable, a physician and astrologer, is summoned to the presence of the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. He is charged to assist a renowned Puritan, John Foxe, in uncovering the secrets of a mysterious cabinet containing an astrological chart and coded message. Together, these claim Elizabeth has a hidden, illegitimate child (an “unknowing maid”) who will be declared to the masses and serve as the focus for an invasion. 
Constable must uncover the identity of the plotters, unaware that he is also under suspicion.
A connection to his estranged mentor, Doctor Dee, comes under scrutiny. Pressured into taking up a position as a court physician, Constable becomes a reluctant spy."
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2 A Necessary Killing A Necessary Killing
Written by Paul Walker
Copyright: 2019

The year is 1579.
"William Constable - physician and unwilling spy - is in Plymouth waiting to sail to the New World. The expedition, led by renowned explorers and traders, John Hawkins and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, has already suffered birth pangs. 
William's friend, Captain Charles Wicken, is accused of killing the son of a wealthy merchant, but the testimonies appear suspect. When William learns that Wicken is one of Walsingham’s agents he uncovers evidence to suggest the murder and Wicken’s naming are designed to conceal a plot of invasion - backed by Rome and Spain."
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3 The Queen's Devil The Queen's Devil
Written by Paul Walker
Copyright: 2019

The year is 1583.
"William Constable, recently married astrologer and mathematician, has settled into routine work as a physician when he is requested to attend two prisoners in the Tower of London.
Both are accused of separate acts treason, but their backgrounds suggest there may be a connection. Sir Francis Walsingham and Lord Burghley urge William to discover further intelligence from the prisoners while tending their injuries from torture."
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I have come to the conclusion that I would be scared witless to have to meet Sir Francis Walsingham in person. This comes from the number of people who have recently chosen to pen adventures about people who are pushed or prodded or just plain forced to work for him in the defense of Queen Elizabeth I. None of those writers have ever indicated he was anything but, well, scary.

At least in this series we have a protagonist in William Constable a man who seems to be able to hold his own - once in a while - in such a confrontation. Well, it sorta depends.

These are very enjoyable adventures, superbly crafted and perfect for anyone who wants to mix historical drama with spy fiction.


My Grade: B+


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