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.
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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 FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved