Form: pdf file
Genre: Shakespeare thriller(?)
Target audience: library and Shakespeare fans of all age
On the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet, Shakespeare scholar and theater director, Kate Stanley, gets a visitor. Her former eccentric mentor Rosalind ‘Roz’ Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery and now she needs Kate’s help. Then the theatre catches fire, on the same date, June 29th, that the original Globe burned, and Roz is found dead. This begins a huge chase across England, the US and Spain to find a missing Shakespearean manuscript of one of his less known plays which might contain the information about the real identity of its author.
Firstly and foremostly I loved the fact that Jennifer Lee Carrell really knew what she was writing about. She is not one of these authors which make factual mistakes, leading their characters on a wild goose chase to places which don’t exist. When she describes a library or a cave you can feel she was and worked there herself. After just a page or two It became obvious that her research and love of the subject is phenomenal. I found myself literally sucked into the various debates that I’ve been aware of through the years but never in detail: the idea that Shakespeare didn’t actually write the books, that there are others who might be better contenders, that there are people who are adamant that only Shakespeare himself could create such magnificent work.
By and large the mystery surrounding the identity and works of William Shakespeare was something that completely captivated my mind because, in itself, it is a topic which has it all: love, murders, conspiracies, betrayal, theatre and history. I admit I never had enough of it, no matter whether it was presented as a lecture, delivered by one of the contemporary characters or as a blast from the past scene. In fact the chapters set at the time of Shakespeare, retelling the story of the Granvilles and Sheltons were superb -far better than the rest of the novel. I certainly learned a lot – about the code of Bacon and the writing of the King James Bible. But I did feel there were times when the history overwhelmed the story.
First let me remind my dear readers that I am a huge anti-fan of Dan Brown. Yes I love to hate all his books for a lot of different reasons, some of them good, some of them just visceral. The fact that the blurb of this one mentions The Da Vinci Code
really put me off for some time. Still as Heidenkind
recommended “Interred…” on her excellent blog I decided to give it a chance. I suppose a small part of me kept hoping that it would be better than any Brown production. Let’s face it, few novels are worse than Dan Brown ‘bestsellers’, right?
Fortunately this one wasn’t worse.
If you took away the literary and historical mystery part I am sure my assessment would be a lot harsher.
Let me warn you: I found the adventure aspects of the book formulaic and boring from time to time. The final outcome was highly predictable as I was able to guess the identity of one of the baddies very early on and it was one of those novels which make you sure that no matter what happens to the main protagonists they will survive in one piece because survive they must – there is a sequel on the shelves, winking at you.
Indeed, the outlandish way in which the author allowed the main characters to jump between the UK, America and Spain with ease (initially without any passports! why does the author never discuss how jetlagged they must have been by the end of this! ) and then they carry weapons around and successfully fool passport control as Kate goes on a journey between continents dressed up as a man on a forged document …highly unbelievable! Added to this, the completely unreal simplicity with which British Law Enforcement operated within the USA was ridiculous.
After a while the characters started acting without any sense and the reasoning behind it was a kind of cop-out. The character development was uneven especially when it came to Ben Pearl, . The climax was unfortunately the choppiest part, full of “It wasn’t me! I was working with her! Ok, just kidding, he was with me and I am not working with her! I was dead! Now she’s dead!”
Concept: great. Execution…it could have been better.This is definitely a light read for those who love theatre, literature, Shakespeare in particular, books and libraries. There are wonderful descriptions of library stacks and rare folios. I hate to say it but this novel is indeed close to being the “Da Vinci Code” for Shakespeare aficionados. Others would probably find it fairly boring. I blame, as always, Dan Brown, let him burn in hell.