cover image The Merry Devils

The Merry Devils

Edward Marston. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03863-2

The return engagement of Lord Westfield's Men, the Elizabethan-era theatrical troupe introduced in The Queen's Head , faces opposition from Puritan factions attempting to stop the premiere of The Merry Devils . The supposedly impious play goes on, but at the requisite moment three boy devils appear through the trap door instead of the expected two. Was it an appearance by the Devil himself? When the play is staged again, only one devil appears--the other little lad is found in costume backstage, dead. It's up to Nicholas Bracewell, mainstay of the troupe, to solve the crime before the Puritans shut down his organization (and the golden age of Elizabethan drama) forever. Though its period dialogue takes some getting used to, this is a believable, satisfying mystery, colorfully costumed and staged, with a bawdy, raffish and utterly amiable cast. (Jan.)