Paul Walker’s ‘State of Treason’ [EXCERPT]

A Wedding Feast, c. 1569

Spy games play out in the midst of Elizabethan England in Paul Walker’s new historical thriller, State of Treason. (“A Wedding Feast, c. 1569” by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder/Public Domain)

More than four centuries have passed since Queen Elizabeth I died, and yet we still seem as captivated as ever by the rich history of Elizabethan England during the 16th century. And why not? After all, it was a time when treachery and betrayal were rampant in both the government and the church, the bubonic plague claimed countless lives across multiple outbreaks, and both William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe competed to write the best plays London had ever seen. Now author Paul Walker uses this vibrant setting to create a new series of spy thrillers centered around a doctor who embraces both lore and science. We hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt from State of Treason.J&H


William Constable, astrologer and physician, has been summoned by Sir Francis Walsingham to assist Dr John Foxe in the examination of an object captured from an enemy agent.


I hear the sound of raised voices nearby. Someone shouts. I cannot distinguish the words, but the angry tone is unmistakeable. The door opens and Walsingham brushes past the outstretched arm and bowed head of a servant without waiting to be announced. His eyes shine with sharp intensity and the atmosphere in the room is changed. A quiet conversation with a leisurely breakfast has gone; the air crackles with urgency and menace.


Sharpe Books

‘Gentlemen, I beg your pardon for my brusqueness.’ He eyes the table and our plates of fish. ‘I will join with your refreshment. Good food and drink will improve my humor.’ He takes a knife, fills a plate, pours a cup of wine and takes a seat across the table. I watch him as he eats in silence for some minutes, his eyes firmly fixed on the business of easing his hunger. The settlement in his mood is visible and eventually, he lifts his head, smiles at John and me in turn and pushes his plate away.

‘I trust that you have both had a comfortable night? I am eager to hear what you have learned from your examinations.’ His eyes narrow as he looks at John. ‘Doctor Foxe, are you quite well? Your colour suggests that you may require some warmth and rest.’

‘Thank you for your consideration, Mister Secretary. I regret that an old infirmity of the lungs has returned to trouble me, as it often does in the winter months. William has been most thoughtful and attentive to my needs and I hope that I shall return to full health shortly.’

Walsingham turns to me. ‘So, William, the main burden of this task has fallen on you. Have you made progress?’

‘John and I examined the box and chart. The Aramaic script on the box and the natal chart together conspire to suggest harm and disruption to Her Majesty.’ Walsingham’s face is set hard and it is impossible to determine if he has foreknowledge of the message. ‘The insinuation is that Her Majesty had a hidden or stillborn child in August of 1560.’ I hesitate, unsure of how much detail to offer and John continues after a brief pause.

‘The translation of the Aramaic script is unfinished and somewhat cryptic. It is recently cut, but masquerades as an ancient Judean prophecy referring to deliverance from the queen of a faraway land by Rome through a hidden or bastard daughter. The star chart is plain in its assertion of character flaws in Queen Elizabeth and her delivery of a bastard child. Although the box was captured in France, the chart was prepared in England.’ He clears his throat before adding, ‘We are of one mind. The implication is manifestly false and we suspect that this is part of a larger conspiracy.’

A silence follows. The effort in making his statement seems to have taken its toll on John and his body sags into his chair. The door opens and Mistress Goodrich enters carrying a tray with a steaming bowl of what must be John’s soother. She bobs a curtsey to Walsingham, bows her head to me and sets the tray down in front of John. She asks John if the potion might be to his liking. He cups the bowl in his hands, takes a sip and confirms his deep satisfaction to her. She colours a little at his praise, smiles and departs after another brief curtsey to Walsingham. I remark on Mistress Goodrich’s efficiency and John murmurs his agreement.

‘She keeps an orderly house and she has a good mind,’ says Walsingham. ‘She has been in my service for over fifteen years and I have come to rely on her management and shrewd observations.’ I assume that last part of his statement refers to her watchfulness and reports to Walsingham on his house guests. I cannot think that I have erred in her presence, but must take care with… the box and the papers; was she spying on me? I feel the heat rise in my neck and must hope that this does not show to excess in my face. Walsingham continues. ‘I thank you both for your enquiries. The date and scribblings on the chart suggested a similar mischief to me, but it is satisfying to have your confirmation. You should know that this is a matter of extreme sensitivity to Her Majesty. She takes any intimation of an improper liaison and childbirth to heart. I should be grateful if you would pen me detailed notes on your findings before leaving this house.’ Walsingham adjusts his seat and shifts his gaze towards me. ‘Meanwhile, I should be interested to learn why you consider that this may be an element in a wider scheme against our state.’

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A gripping and evocative page-turner that vibrantly brings Elizabeth’s London to life.” -Steven Veerapen, author of A Dangerous Trade

London 1578 – a cauldron of conspiracy, intrigue and torture.

The might of Spain and the growing influence of the Catholic League in France all threaten the stability of Queen Elizabeth and her state.

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.

Do the stars and cipher speak true, or is there some other malign intent in the complex web of scheming?

Constable becomes an unwitting pawn, in a complex game of thrones and power.

State of Treason is the first in a series of Elizabethan thrillers featuring William Constable.

Recommended for fans of C.J. Sansom, S.J. Parris and Rory Clements.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker


Paul Walker inherited his love of British history and historical fiction from his mother who was an active member of the Richard III Society.

State of Treason is the first in a planned series of Elizabethan spy thrillers. The plot is based around real characters and events in London of the 1570s. The hero, William Constable, is an astrologer and also a skeptic. He is also a mathematician, astronomer and inventor of a navigational aid for ships. The distinction between astrology and astronomy was blurred in the sixteenth century.

The second book in the series, A Necessary Killing, was published in November 2019.

Paul is married and lives in a village 30 miles north of London. His writing is regularly disrupted by children and a growing number of grandchildren and dogs.

Readers are encouraged to follow Paul on Twitter and Goodreads.

By Paul Walker
317 pp. Sharpe Books. $10.99

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours bannerPurchase State of Treason at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

State of Treason is brought to you in association with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to Paul Walker’s ‘State of Treason’ [EXCERPT]

  1. Thank you very much for hosting the State of Treason Blog Tour! We appreciate the support!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

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