The Slicing Edge of Death: Who Killed Christopher Marlowe?

Judith Cook, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (234p) ISBN 978-0-312-10011-7
Published as a mystery, this historical novel offers a fictional explanation for the death of Elizabethan playwright and poet, Christopher Marlowe. Cook expands on real-life theories that connect Marlowe's violent death with covert missions he carried out as an agent for Francis Walsingham, one of the queen's ministers. By his late 20s, Marlowe is a model of indiscretion, subject to accusations of homosexuality, atheism and blasphemy. When Francis suffers a stroke, his brother Thomas, who is Marlowe's patron and sometime lover, cannot protect the hard-drinking, loose-tongued agent from William Cecil, Francis's successor. The plot works its way relentlessly toward murder as Cecil sets his men on Marlowe, looking for a convenient way to destroy him. With cool indifference, Cecil also has playwright Thomas Kyd imprisoned and tortured to extract incriminating evidence. Cook's reconstruction is meticulous but ultimately flat. An authority on Elizabethan England, she fictionally reconstructs the mechanics of Marlowe's death, but fails to explore Marlowe's more novelistically interesting inner demons. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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