Time’s Fool

Written by Leonard Tourney
Review by Bethany Skaggs

The Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets has been the subject of conjecture for centuries, and in this offering, Tourney presents his take on the life of the bard and his muse.

Shakespeare receives a summons from his old mistress—the Dark Lady who stirred in him a passion so heated that his most famous sonnets sprang from its flames. She soon dies in a mysterious fire, and Shakespeare uncovers a deadly conspiracy.

Though the beginning of the novel creates its fair share of tension and foreboding, the malefactors’ uncanny ability to see through Shakespeare’s disguises and anticipate his every move inspires incredulity. The novel’s ambience is convincing, but Shakespeare himself doesn’t feel quite right. The fault perhaps springs from an attempt to sound like Shakespeare without rendering the dialogue archaic and therefore unpalatable to a modern audience. This defect pales in comparison to the novel’s major flaw, namely the revelation at its ending. Points throughout the novel feel contrived, but the exposure of the villain and the motive of the conspiracy are absurdly far-fetched at best. Overall, the atmosphere Tourney creates will make this novel appealing to readers of Jacobean mysteries—as long as they value ambience over believability.