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Excerpt: Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham

It's coming to that time of year when I always put a plug in for both myself and fellow authors! Books make fabulous Christmas or Hannukah gifts. Consider ordering some books as gifts this year and make an author smile!

And speaking of smiles--I had to smile reading the phenomenal character-building in this week's meaty excerpt from Twelve Nights. Penny Ingham is highlighting her newest story which takes place in Elizabethan London. Shakespeare fans will want to take note, for the protagonist even works in a London theater. When a man is poisoned, the blame rests solely on her.

Be sure to read this week's excerpt and remember to make an author smile on this upcoming Black Friday!

Twelve Nights Excerpt

The bells of Saint Leonards were striking six as Magdalen left the Theatre. As she turned into Curtain Road, she came face to face with the constable, Edmund Stow. He looked more bloated than usual, inflated by his own self-importance. His eyes were squashed by puffy cheeks, his nose a button in a pillow of flesh. His expression oozed malice and her heart lurched with dread.

‘I was coming to find you, girl. I have news. The coroner has set a date for the inquest. Friday the tenth of April.’

Magdalen’s blood ran cold. April the tenth was less than two weeks away.

‘And, I have a witness who saw you poisoning John Wood.’

‘No, that’s not possible!’ she gasped. ‘Your witness is lying!’

‘He is an honest and reputable man, whereas you are a harlot, a liar, and a murderer. I will prove it, and I will watch you hang.’

Magdalen stared at him, aghast. Had she wronged Stow in another life? What had caused this implacable hatred? Angry and afraid in equal measure, she spoke without thinking:

‘Constable Stow, how much did you pay this honest man to malign me so?’

‘How dare you? I will have you whipped, you insolent wench!’

Without warning, Stow raised his right arm, and struck her with the back of his hand. His signet ring tore a gash across her cheek. Stunned, Magdalen staggered backwards with the force of the blow. Through a haze of pain, she realised he was coming at her again. Turning on her heel, she ran, but she did not get far. Huge, paw-like hands landed on her shoulders, wrenching her to a standstill. He spun her about and then his hands were at her throat.

‘Vile, sinful whore…’

It was as if he was gripped by madness, his fury sparking like flint. She tried desperately to claw his fingers away, but he was too strong. His grip was tightening. She fought for air but she couldn’t breathe. Bright stars burst before her eyes. She had to do something. And fast. Dropping her hands to his shoulders, she kneed him hard in the groin. Instantly, his hands fell from her throat and he bent double. A strange wheezing sound escaped his lips, like a set of leaky bellows. Magdalen did not wait to catch her breath. She ran across Finsbury fields, past the gently turning windmills, and the quietly grazing cattle. Her eyes were blinded by tears and her lungs were aching, but she kept on running, desperate to escape from Edmund Stow and the madness in his eyes. Only when she felt her lungs might burst did she slow her pace to a walk.


She glanced over her shoulder. It was Matthew Hilliard. Dear sweet Jesus, she didn’t want him to see her like this. She gave a half-hearted wave, and continued walking. Undeterred, he ran to catch up with her.

‘I thought it was you. I wanted to thank you again for the introduction. I am in your debt -’ he noticed the gash on her cheek. ‘What happened to you?’

‘Nothing, I am quite well.’ She kept walking, keeping her head down.

‘Wait! Did someone hit you?’

She stopped reluctantly and turned around. ‘Edmund Stow,’ she said flatly, but even as she uttered his name, treacherous tears welled in her eyes again.

Matthew took a long stride and closed the distance between them. ‘You should rest for a moment.’

Without waiting for her reply, he put a hand to her elbow, led her to the verge and sat her down. Magdalen closed her eyes and took some deep breaths. The air smelled fresher here than in the city, sweet with the fragrance of daffodils in the hedgerows, of primroses beneath the oak trees. Scents redolent of the wild flower meadows near her parents’ farm. She had felt safe and loved there, but it was a long time ago.

All About the Book

1592. The Theatre, London.

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The coroner is convinced of her guilt. The scandal-pamphlets demonize her.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Only handsome Matthew Hilliard offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer - for all other roads lead to the gallows.

All About Penny

Penny has a degree in Classics, and a passion for archaeology – during the summer months, you will often find her on her a ‘dig’ with a trowel in her hand. She has had a variety of jobs over the years, including ice-cream seller, theatre PR, BBC local radio, and TV critic for a British Forces newspaper.

She has written four novels – ‘The King’s Daughter’ is the story of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. ‘The Saxon Wolves’ and ‘The Saxon Plague’ are set in the turbulent aftermath of Roman Britain. Her inspiration for Twelve Nights grew from her love of the theatre in general, and Shakespeare in particular.

Penny has two grown up children and lives with her husband in Hampshire.

Connect with Penny


***This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.***

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