The Queen's Agent

Knowledge is power, and Sir Francis Walsingham, England's first great spymaster, understood that perfectly. At a time when England, a Protestant country, was surrounded by Catholics plotting to invade, and rival powers within, he did what it took to save Elizabeth I -- and her embattled country. Historian John Cooper's account of his efforts, and his life (c. 1532 to 1590), proves as thrilling as any spy novel.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…