A Mystery of Errors

Simon Hawke, Author
Simon Hawke, Author Forge $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-87372-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 240 pages - 978-0-8125-6454-9
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In the ebullient spirit of the hit movie Shakespeare in Love, young William Shakespeare takes center stage as an aspiring playwright and sleuth in this lighthearted historical from SF author Hawke, absorbing everything he sees and goes through, transmuting it into literary gold. On the road to London, Will meets Symington Smythe II, a starstruck, would-be actor, also journeying to the capital for the first time. Smythe, who's large, na ve and honest (his new friend renames him ""Tuck""), and Will, who's quick-witted, sharp-tongued, hard-drinking and brimming with confidence, make an appealing pair. Their encounters with a noble highwayman; with a fellow poet who rescues them from a tavern brawl; and particularly with Elizabeth Darcie, the daughter of a wealthy merchant who's trying to marry her off against her will (sound familiar?), provide grist. Will's efforts to rise in the ranks of the Queen's Men, the theater troupe they join as ostlers, and Tuck's efforts to help Elizabeth foil her father's marriage scheme supply the grit. Shakespeare would have appreciated the confusion of identities that surrounds and confounds the hapless Elizabeth, but he might have quailed at the misidentification that makes him the target of hired killers. Happily, all's well that ends well, and it appears that the budding playwright might take future, and welcome, bows in his new guise as sleuth. (Dec.)
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