Off the coast of Liguria, 1713 - accompanied by his valet Thomas Noon and tutor Lucius Jelbourne, young aristocrat Lord Stilwell is bound for Genoa and that essential part of an English gentleman's education; the Grand Tour of Italy. Jelbourne has long been wary of Noon: his standing at Dengby Hall, his relationship with Stilwell and his intelligence do not tally with his role as a servant. Noon, likewise is suspicious of Jelbourne: why does Stilwell's tutor enjoy better hospitality than Stilwell himself? And why, when Jelbourne is purchasing Italian pictures supposedly a century old, is the paint still fresh? The English who visit eighteenth-century Italy normally consider it only for its past: Jelbourne, as Noon is to discover, is different. For there is a new king on the throne of England - a German, a protestant - and not all of his subjects are loyal. As the Grand Tour weaves its way to Venice, Rome and Naples, Noon finds himself drawn into a deadly world of intrigue, and double lives: a world where nothing and no-one are as they seem. And though Noon would like to unmask the mysterious Jelbourne, his attentions are drawn to the delectable Natalia Silver, and the unmistakable lure of love . . . THE MASQUERADE is a sophisticated literary thriller that confirms Nicholas Griffin's growing reputation as one our finest exponents of historical fiction.