[an Elizabethan Thriller]

Book - 2009
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In this ingenious debut, Rory Clements introduces John Shakespeare, Elizabethan England's most remarkable investigator, and delivers a tale of murder and conspiracy that succeeds brilliantly as both historical fiction and a crime thriller.

In a burnt-out house, one of Queen Elizabeth's aristocratic cousins is found murdered, her young flesh marked with profane symbols. At the same time, a plot to assassinate Sir Francis Drake, England's most famous sea warrior, is discovered--a plot which, if successful, could leave the country utterly defenseless against a Spanish invasion. It's 1587, the Queen's reign is in jeopardy, and one man is charged with the desperate task of solving both cases: John Shakespeare. With the Spanish Armada poised to strike, Mary Queen of Scots awaiting execution, and the pikes above London Bridge decorated with the grim evidence of treachery, the country is in peril of being overwhelmed by fear and chaos. Following a trail of illicit passions and family secrets, Shakespeare travels through an underworld of spies, sorcerers, whores, and theater people, among whom is his own younger brother, the struggling playwright, Will. Shadowed by his rival, the Queen's chief torturer, who employs his own methods of terror, Shakespeare begins to piece together a complex and breathtaking conspiracy whose implications are almost too horrific to contemplate. For a zealous and cunning killer is stalking England's streets. And as Shakespeare threatens to reveal a madman's shocking identity, he and the beautiful woman he desires come ever closer to becoming the next martyrs to a passion for murder and conspiracy whose terrifying consequences might still be felt today….
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 2009.
ISBN: 9780385342827
Branch Call Number: FIC CLEMENT
Characteristics: 388 p. ; 22 cm.


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Jun 05, 2014

I do like this era and the idea was good, I just don't think Clements managed to pull it off.

John Shakespeare is an investigator for Walsingham, charged with keeping Sir Francis Drake from being assassinated and rooting out any Catholic plots against the queen. Fellow investigator and rival Topcliffe always seems to be just ahead of Shakespeare in the investigation, using his brutal methods to get the answers he wants from the victims and perpetrators.

There were two things that jumped out at me from the start. First: I felt the characters were a bit one dimensional and typical, as in, the spunky girl willing to state her mind no matter what or the bad guys with no redeeming attributes or the hero just trying to do everything honourably. Second: the writing was so full of clichés it felt like I was reading a newspaper article not a book.
I did like the Will Shakespeare parts. I also liked how they all talked about Queen Elizabeth with her moods and avoiding her at times. I actually really enjoyed several of the bit players, Jane and the clubfoot guy (I can't remember his name right now), the two whores and Harry Slide........
The atmosphere was also well done. The legislation to go to church on Sunday and the fear of being Roman Catholic was portrayed great.
I found the last half too rushed, going here and there, it felt like it was all over the place, trying to tie up loose ends and characters.

Oct 23, 2013

great read makes you glad we live in a more tolerant time.

Mar 19, 2013

The tale is based on Tudor times; it is well researched and very interesting and adult.

Jun 20, 2012

An interesting read - love the authentic details of the time and location that add to the story.

Oct 30, 2011

For those with even a passing interest in Shakespeare/Elizabethan times this is a great read. The main character is based on the premise of being William Shakespeare's brother (the baird does make an appearance in the novel) as an investigator. The story is one of intrigue and is full of information about the time. It essentially follows the hunt for a murderer that entwines other true story lines. Due to the time it is set in, investigations take longer (one has to ride a horse to get from A to B rather than jump in a car!) so the story slowly unwinds. My only criticism is that the author leaves a few threads in the story untied at the end, but then again doesn't that happen in real life?!


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