Simon Hawke, Author . Forge $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-87894-8

Will Shakespeare and Tuck Smythe, the Elizabethan era's answer to Holmes and Watson, return for a second amusing stint as amateur sleuths (after 2000's A Mystery of Errors). Tuck laments his apparent lack of talent as an actor, though he wants nothing more than to strut his time upon the stage, while fledgling playwright Will wants to make his mark as a wordsmith. Along with their fellow members of the Queen's Men, the company playing at the Burbage Theatre in London, they have been hired to perform as part of the entertainment during the wedding festivities for a wealthy man's daughter. Merchant Godfrey Middleton wants no expense spared for his daughter Catherine's nuptials on his estate not far from London. The bride may have a thoroughly sharp tongue and a shrewish manner, but Tuck is aghast when he overhears two anonymous men plotting to murder Catherine and take over Middleton's fortune through a marriage to his younger—and seemingly promiscuous—daughter, Blanche. Though Tuck and Will try valiantly to keep Catherine from danger, a murderer strikes, and the race is on to identify the murderous suitor. Avid Shakespeareans will chortle as they identify elements of this plot that will later find their way into the esteemed works of the great playwright and the clever way in which Hawke makes such spirited use of the canon. Tuck and Will are an endearing pair, and if the inventiveness of this tale is an omen, Hawke can keep them detecting engagingly for quite some time. (Dec. 11)

FYI:Hawke is best known as an author of SF, including the Time War series and a bestselling Star Trek novel.

Reviewed on: 11/05/2001
Release date: 12/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 251 pages - 978-0-7653-4294-2
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