The Scottish Play Murder: A Restoration Mystery
In Restoration-period London, whore-turned-theater manager Suzanne Thornton decides to ignore superstition and the advice of her cast and put on a production of The Scottish Play, aka Macbeth. She’s not so far removed from her younger and lustier days that the appearance of a good-looking Scotsman, perfect for the titular role in the play, doesn’t affect her thinking. Diarmid Ramsay is mysterious and avid in his courting of her; but is he also a murderer? As soon as the play goes into rehearsal, the deaths begin.
This novel is a fun historical whodunit, making interesting use of Restoration theater and the malleability of the Shakespeare plays at that time. The setting, complete with the filth, violence and narrow thinking of Restoration London, provides an excellent backdrop. The details are rich and thickly used. Historical elements – wandering aristocrats, pirates, borderland conflict between Scotland and England – are well integrated into the plotting and the characters’ stories. Suzanne herself is an interesting mix of old tart and budding intellectual, a woman who has learned to survive, who has raised her child alone in a dangerous time, and yet has retained enough emotional innocence to succumb to flattery. This novel is the second in the series, so not all ends tie up; there’s more to come, especially in Suzanne’s active love life.