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The Malevolent Comedy: An Elizabethan Theater Mystery Featuring Nicholas Bracewell (Elizabethan Theater Mysteries) Hardcover – June 16, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Elizabethan Theater Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (June 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312342837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312342838
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,468,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this lively and entertaining caper, the 15th in Marston's Elizabethan Theater Mystery series (after 2004's The Counterfeit Crank), the Westfield Players have once again fallen on hard times. "Audiences have been thin of late," laments veteran book-holder Nicholas Bracewell, "because we've been guilty of putting on meager fare." To remedy the situation, the company engages upstart playwright Saul Hibbert, whose haughty attitude soon infuriates the players. When Hibbert gets behind in his rent at the Queen's Head Inn, the company nearly loses its performance venue there. Opening night of Hibbert's play, however, is a huge success made even more stunning when a young actor making his debut is poisoned on stage. Suspicions range from Hibbert's many foes to fanatical Puritans who see the London theater world as "purveyors of sin." Though some culprits are known to the reader early on, Nicholas leads a suspenseful search for a kidnapped apprentice that takes us through London's seedier neighborhoods to a satisfying, if unsurprising, resolution. Quick scene changes and witty dialogue provide mostly comical fare with an authentic medieval flavor.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Marston hits the mark again with another Elizabethan theater mystery featuring stalwart Nicholas Bracewell. As the resourceful book holder for Westfield's Men, Nick is drawn into a web of intrigue and deceit when a young cast member is fatally poisoned during the premiere of an acclaimed new play. Chief among the suspects is Saul Hibbert, the talented but odious playwright harboring a closet full of skeletons and a grudge against Nick. After several other perilous mishaps, it becomes increasingly clear that someone is determined to prevent The Malevolent Comedy from ever being staged again. In order to save his company from financial ruin and expose a murderer, Nick hatches a dramatic plot worthy of his theatrical roots. Another authentically constructed period piece dripping with suspense and scattered with hilarious bits of comic relief. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on August 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The latest "Elizabethan theater Mystery featuring Nicholas Bracewell" by Edward Marston comes with no surprises and certainly nothing new in plot or character development. It's Marston, tried and true.

The author, who doesn't write under any known pseudonyms, is well respected in the genre and, in addition to the Bracewell series, writes the Domesday Book episodes, equally engrossing and well researched. Like his UK colleague Paul Doherty (who does write under a number of other names), his historical takes are absorbing!

In "The Malevolent Comedy" we find Marston's stable (and staple) formula: the nasty landlord, his equally nasty wife, the tempestuous Lawrence Firethorn (great actor that he is), Edmund Hoode (once again, "losing his Muse"), Barnaby Gill (the obnoxious gay clown), Richard Honeydew (the sweet young boy who plays the lead female roles), the trademark kidnappings (of course), etc., and, because it's a murder mystery, at least one body (usually a member of the cast). And, naturally, Lord Westfield's Men (their company)in their intense rivalry with Banbury's Men is on the verge of losing (a) their reputation, (b) their license, (c) their theatre, etc. Yes, you've read this in all the Nicholas Bracewell stories.

Still, despite the fact that not much is new in this book, this series is well worth the read. I haven't missed a one and recommend this one heartily. I wish Mr. Marston would give us something new, but until he does I'll continue to read the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy johns Mohlere on August 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Another enjoyable story of Westfield's Men and Nicholas Bracewell sovling mysteries in Elizabethan England. The pace, the plot and the descriptions of Tudor England are still as fresh as with the first novel in the series. I thoroughly enjoy anything by Marston (Doherty).
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Format: Hardcover
Amongst the many mystery series that Edward Marston (one of Paul Doherty's many pseudonyms) writes, the Nicholas Bracewell Elizabethan theatre mysteries are one of my favourites. Not so much for the mystery at hand, which is, most of the time really riveting and absorbing, but mainly because of the series' lively cast of characters and the vivid and colourful manner in which Mr. Marston brings the world of the Elizabethan theatre to life.

It's beginning to look as if the theatrical company, the Westfield's Men, is currently experiencing the worst of fortunes. Their resident playwright's, Edmund Hoode, creative juices seems to have dried up, while their bitterest rival, Banbury's Men, is riding high with their latest play, "Lamberto." If things continue is they are, it could mean the end of Westfield's Men. So that when an upstart, young playwright, Saul Hibbert, presents the company with a play that has all the hallmarks of being a hit, actor-manager, Lawrence Firethorn, immediately snaps at the chance to make his company successful again. Only this time it looks as if he may have made a pact with the devil. For Saul Hibbert is a brash, grating and conceited individual who believes that he knows better than anyone else, and that his "superior" intellect entitles him to all sorts of liberties. And it isn't too long before he's antagonising most of the company -- Nicholas Bracewell, the company's book holder, especially. But when one of the troupe is poisoned while on stage, and a series of suspicious events begin to plague the company, Nicholas beings to wonder if someone just might have a serious objection to Hibbert's play, and just how far this person will go to see that the play is never performed again; or if some rival of the company is trying to shut them down.
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Format: Hardcover
Edward Marston is the pseudonym of Keith Miles, a fairly prolific and extremely good writer of mainly Elizabethan and medieval mysteries. He has also written mysteries under his own name with both sporting and golf backgrounds. However it is primarily the books that take place earlier in history that I am interested in. He read modern history at Oxford and has had many jobs, including university lecturer, but fortunately for all his readers, he turned to the writing profession.

Westfield's Men, the most successful troupe of theatre players in medieval London are once again a prime target of jealousy and resentment. With many different theatre groups vying for the attention of the theatre going public, rival groups are not above acts of sabotage and other activities that will put their rivals on the back foot.

However when one of the actor's is found murdered it is a step too far. Other appalling events continue. The leading man Laurence Firethorn is stalked by a mysterious lady and Laurence is quite perturbed by this, as it is usually him who does the stalking. Their leading apprentice is abducted and there is even an attempt on their patrons life. Nicholas Bracewell faces an almighty struggle to save his beloved company yet again.

The author's love for the Elizabethan theatre comes shining through this series of books. Plus his knowledge of the period fills the pages with authenticity and the sights and sounds of the streets and inns of Elizabethan London.
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