Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

The scene, London, England during the reign of her gracious majesty Queen Elizabeth I. Enter a player, Richard Shakespeare, the brother of the celebrated playwright and actor William Shakespeare. Chafing under the shadow of his famed older brother (and perpetually short of money), Richard longs for the prestige and money that more prominent roles in the plays performed by his brother’s company, The Chamberlain’s Men, will provide. Until then he subsists on what little coin his talent, his charm, and the occasional act of petty theft provide.

When two of the company’s priceless manuscripts go missing suspicion immediately falls on Richard and it is up to him to find them again and prove his innocence. For if he fails not only is his livelihood but his very life will be at stake.