One Devil Too Many
A deadly Libel.
Ye devil’s servants graced with doctor’s name,
Heed well these lines that sages’ fates presage.
Thy sinful Cambridge entertains the plague,
And like the playhouse strikes its sinners dead!
The year is 1628.
Cambridge University is plagued by a series of murders. One victim lies dead inside a conjuring circle. Another bears a Latin inscription carved into his arm. Each crime resembles a scene from Marlowe’s infamous play Doctor Faustus, mocking and challenging the academy. But the great body of scholars is reduced to finger-pointing, consumed by disputes over church and state.
It's not what a first-year student like Richard Thornhill expects from the storied institution. But as the university splinters, he finds himself drawn into a dangerous game, a pursuit of the killer, with three friends: John Milton, his brilliant roommate, who aspires to be a poet but is a magnet for trouble; John Harvard, his frail but spirited childhood schoolmate; and Benjamin Whichcote, a gifted young philosopher who maintains, against all evidence, his deep faith in humanity.
The quartet works furiously to decipher a series of clues embedded by the killer in lines of blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter that accuses Cambridge of irreparable sin. Their discoveries send them scrambling across the roof of a majestic chapel at dawn, racing through lost tunnels absent of light, and enlisting the aid of a young widow who floats through the night like an apparition. With dangerous texts piling up as fast as bodies, and the chase testing the bonds of friendship, Thornhill finds himself facing secrets of his own that he would rather remain hidden.
"As Faustus was busy in his magical invocations, on a sudden they were all dashed, every one hearkening the other in the ear, for they were all persuaded there was ONE DEVIL TOO MANY amongst them." - Unknown