Murder in Stratford

Written by Audrey Peterson
Review by Ellen Keith

Anne Hathaway Shakespeare narrates this tale of the murder of Richard Quiney, a charming but feckless friend of her husband, William Shakespeare. Widely held to be a shrew and a primary reason for Shakespeare’s residence in London, this Anne is a down-to-earth realist who had a great love prior to Shakespeare, accepts her husband’s absences from Stratford, and contents herself with her friends and making a home for her children. She is also privy to much of the intrigue inspired by and surrounding Queen Elizabeth. Through her husband, she gets the news of the Queen’s favorites and even aids the romance of one of them, the Earl of Southampton, although that marriage causes both of them to be thrown in jail. She also details the Earl of Essex’s rebellion against the Queen, aided by a production of Richard II.

Quiney’s murder comes fairly late in the tale, after Anne has set the scene (with storytelling worthy of her husband) of the victim as more sinner than sinned against. He had ignored the son of his first marriage, married a friend of Anne’s and drained her accounts, and dallied with his wife’s cousin. There are few who would not wish him dead, but circumstantial evidence makes Shakespeare the prime suspect. Peterson writes in a style that is not anachronistic but does not get mired down in Elizabethan English. It’s accessible and engrossing, and I hope that Anne Hathaway Shakespeare continues to sleuth.