An international thriller set in eighteenth-century Europe by the "master of the clever twist" and acclaimed author of the James Maxted series ( The Sunday Telegraph ) . It's January 1721, and London is still reeling from the recession caused by the greatest financial scandal of the age: the collapse of the South Sea Bubble. William Spandrel, a penniless mapmaker, is offered a rare chance to clear his debts. But Sir Theodore Janssen, a director of the South Sea Company, has one condition: Spandrel must secretly convey an important package to Amsterdam. Shortly after delivering the parcel, its recipient is killed. Then, barely surviving an attempt on his own life, Spandrel discovers that he is the prime suspect in the murder -- and a pawn in a dangerous game. With British government agents and other foes on his trail, Spandrel's only chance of survival is to recover the package and place its contents in the hands of the right person. But determining who that is will be a deadly challenge . . "[A] picaresque tale of high adventure and low intrigue . . The historical period is vividly conjured up and the narrative flows effortlessly . . Engrossing storytelling of a very high order." -- The Observer "Hugely enjoyable . . Totally entertaining." -- Time Out.