Christopher Marlowe Cobb ("Kit"), the swashbuckling early 20th-century American newspaper war correspondent, travels to Mexico in April and May of 1914, during that country's civil war and the American invasion of Vera Cruz. But covering the war in enemy territory and in sweltering heat isn't enough of a challenge for Cobb. Soon, he's falling in love with a young Mexican laundress, Luisa, who may not be as innocent as she seems, and he's witnessing the inexplicable attempted sniper assassination of a priest (miraculously, the bullet rebounds off the cross around his neck, leaving him unharmed).
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The first World War is underway; Germany has allied with the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish caliphs have declared jihad on the British Empire. Meanwhile, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson hesitates to enter the fray. Aboard the passenger liner Lusitania, war correspondent and American spy Kit Cobb has been assigned to shadow a German intellectual and possible covert agent who is believed to have information vital to the war effort. During the voyage Cobb is smitten with famed actress Selene Bourgani, who inexplicably seems to be working for the Germans.
In The Empire of Night, it is 1915, and President Woodrow Wilson is still assessing the war's threat to the United States. After proving himself during the Lusitania mission, Kit is now a full-blown spy, working undercover in a castle on the Kentish coast owned by a suspected British government mole named Sir Albert Stockman. And Kit is again thrown together with a female spy - his own mother, the beautiful and mercurial Isabel Cobb, who also happens to be a world-famous stage actress.