Thirteenth Night: A Medieval Mystery

Alan Gordon, Author
Alan Gordon, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-20035-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-312-97684-2
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-1-932325-03-4
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""I prefer to leap to conclusions without evidence. It saves time,"" says Feste, a professional fool. Around this note of obfuscation, Gordon's first novel weaves an amusing sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that, through clever misdirection and deceit, keeps readers guessing. In the first year of the 13th century, the Fool's Guild--a training center and headquarters for jesters and clowns who secretly influence the direction of political events--receives word of the death of Duke Orsino of Illyria. Feste, who nurtured Orsino's affections for Viola years before, suspects foul play, so he goes to investigate, disguised as a merchant. The guild also sends along Bobo, in fool's garb, to act as a decoy. Feste fears that Malvolio, former steward to a wealthy family who became the butt of his songs and pranks, may have murdered the duke in the first step of a long-promised revenge. But after 14 years' absence, Feste is no longer certain of Malvolio's appearance, and every man in town becomes a suspect. The plot becomes further entangled with the murder of Fabian, the new steward to the family that Malvolio once served. Gordon's invention of the guild's code and its many tricks is delightful; his dialogue is pitch perfect. What the first half of the narrative lacks in excitement, the second provides in abundance, as political intrigues--and the characters involved in them--sparkle, delighting readers all the way to the conclusion. (Jan.)
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