Much Ado About Murder
There is a period of William Shakespeare’s life (1585-1592) called the Lost Years, in which nothing is known — where he was, what he was doing. Filling in the gap — pure speculation — here’s the third in a series of detective adventures of the most famous poet and playwright the world has even known, plus his friend and hanger-on with the Queen’s Men, Symington “Tuck” Smythe. Hard times have hit the travelling group of players. Plague has struck London, and all playhouses have been closed down. (Hawke describes the horrible condition of the unsanitary streets in more than adequate detail.) Will has sold some sonnets, however, so he and Tuck are not starving, yet. They also run athwart the Steady Boys, a gang of young ruffians who feel that the country is being done under by too many immigrants: England for Englishmen in Shakespeare’s day!
But while their day-to-day life is interesting, after 130 pages, it’s no longer entirely riveting, so when the murder of Master Leonardo occurs, it’s with sizable sense of relief and “at last.” It’s a relatively minor case to be solved, but Will’s sense of what makes people do what they do holds him in good stead.
Bawdy at times, extremely funny at others, this is an entirely enjoyable lark, a remarkable flight of fancy. I think you’ll like it, too.