Louise Welsh, Author . Canongate $18.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-84195-625-1

Christopher Marlowe, "playwright, scenester, and celebrated wit," was a superstar in Elizabethan London. Unfortunately for him, Elizabethan London was a risky place to attract notice. In Welsh's slim, taut follow-up to her 2003 debut, The Cutting Room , she reimagines the bitter end of the great dramatist's life, retold in his own words on the eve of his still-unsolved murder. The beginning of the end comes in the form of a messenger from the queen's Privy Council, summoning him back to the city from a comfortable ensconcement at his patron's country house. Turns out that heretical verses signed by Tamburlaine, his most famous (and famously ruthless) creation, have been turning up all over plague-decimated London in his absence. Faced with charges of heresy and blasphemy, Marlowe has an unspecified, "but clearly short," window of opportunity to offer up a more appealing scapegoat in his place. Welsh doesn't waste a word on any of the florid romanticizing so common in historical fiction: no heaving, corseted breasts or speeding steeds here. Just a hard, sharp little rapier of a thriller/mystery that packs a punishing schedule of sex, violence, wheeling and double-dealing into its brief length. The tension is unabated throughout this frantic, 72-hour dash among backstabbers, spies, murderers and prostitutes—even as Marlowe realizes that not even he will be able to talk his way out of this one. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-84767-694-8
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-84195-604-6
Hardcover - 149 pages - 978-1-84195-532-2
Paperback - 149 pages - 978-1-84195-600-8
Ebook - 978-1-4434-0110-4
Paperback - 978-0-00-639574-4
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