This book was a hugely fun chase through Shakespeare’s work and Shakespeare’s lore, including the question of who wrote the works which bear Shakespeare’s name.
From the publisher’s website:
On the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet, Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. But before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe burns to the ground and Roz is found dead . . . murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet’s father. Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, high-stakes treasure hunt.
From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and decipher a tantalizing string of clues, hidden in the words of Shakespeare, that may unlock literary history’s greatest secret.
This book was exactly what it set out to be. Cryptic clues! Obscure References! Chases! Near Escapes!
I know enough about Shakespeare that most of the references in the book rang a bell, but not enough that I could say if any of the conclusions they drew from the clues actually made sense. They all sounded good to me in the context of this book, though.
I enjoyed Kate’s character, other than one problem I’ll talk about below. I particularly liked the inner journey she took as she reevaluated her relationship with her ex-mentor, and what it meant for Kate’s pace in academia. I’m hoping to meet Kate again in a future book.
With any book of this sort, you have to suspend disbelief. Mostly, this isn’t a problem for me.
I did have one issue with this book, that still bothers me after finishing it. Once people continue to be murdered, why does Kate believe her new allies over the police? She realizes at various points that the police will believe it isn’t her if she talks to them then, and she realizes everyone she is talking to about her quest is being killed, but she still doesn’t bring in the police! It seems out of character. Then again, it is only a book.
I read this book for one of my book clubs. We had a good, but not great, discussion of it, which ran for 45 minutes of the hour I plan for our discussions to run. Part of that was that we all had real life issues to talk about, but part of it was that we had trouble with how to get into this book to discuss it. If you had even one real Shakespeare aficionado, I think it would be a hugely fun conversation.
I mentioned my pet peeve about the book above. In spite of the fact we all enjoyed the book (and I think everyone did), we each had something different that bothered us, which amused me.
In summary– a fun read, a good (but not great) book club choice.