Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shakespeare Challenge Book One

My list of books for the Shakespeare Challenge has changed a bit. I was scanning the New Books shelf at the library and ran across Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell. The front cover flap read

A long-lost work of Shakespeare, newly found. . .a killer who stages the Bard’s extravagant murders as flesh-and-blood realities. . .a desperate race to find literary gold, and just to stay alive . . .

I enjoy a good murder mystery and I loved the premise that another Shakespearean play had been discovered. After I got the book home I read JenClair’s review but decided to try it anyway. I have to agree with her – the plot was much too complicated.

Kate Stanley is an American Shakespearean expert who is directing Hamlet at the Globe in London. Her mentor Rosalind Howard visits, after being estranged from her for several years, and gives Kate a mysterious gift, telling her she needs her help.

That night the Globe has a massive fire and Rosalind’s body is found inside, murdered. A wild chase follows to solve the mystery of who killed her and why she needed Kate’s help. The chase starts in London, goes to Massachusetts (Harvard University), Utah, New Mexico, Washington DC (Folger Library), Spain, back to New Mexico for the climax and then back to London. Loads of frequent flier miles, but not very believable when the main character is trying to elude the police and the murderer.

Lots of red herrings. And murders – in all seven deaths, several of which were totally unnecessary to move the plot along. And the British detective that started out seeming like he’d be an important character suddenly disappears and then reappears a couple of times out of nowhere in far flung areas where he has no jurisdiction and does very little to add to the story.

To confuse things even further, the book opens with a chapter set in 1613 with Shakespeare and a woman and a young man. These three 17th century characters appear several times in chapters inserted between modern chapters. I think I understand why they were there, but I didn’t find that those chapters enhanced the flow of events in the modern part of the story.

The author has a PhD in English and American Literature, has taught at Harvard and directed Shakespeare theater, and it shows. I admit I learned a number of bits of Shakespearean lore that I didn’t know that I found interesting. However, too many coincidences, too many deaths, too many locations, too little substance to the story. All in all, I should have listened to JenClair.

1 comment:

jenclair said...

The book had possibilities, but something about even the first murder put me off. I'm not sure why I slogged through the entire thing. The Shakespeare stuff was good, but the plot was often silly.