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Publisher's Summary

March, 1587. Christopher Marlowe’s play Tamburlaine has opened at the Rose Theatre. But the play is almost shut down on its opening night. For a member of the audience, Eleanor Merchant, lies dead, hit by a musket ball fired from the stage. The man with his finger on the trigger? A bit-part player named Will Shakespeare. 

Convinced of Shakespeare’s innocence, Marlowe determines to find out what really happened. When a second body is found floating in the River Thames, it becomes clear that Eleanor Merchant’s death was no accident and that something deeper and darker is afoot. And why is the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, taking a close personal interest in the case?

©2013 M. J. Trow and Maryanne Coleman (P)2018 Soundings

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  • Squeaky Joe
  • 04-20-18

A clever and witty story

London, 1587. A new play entitled Tamburlaine opens at the Rose Theatre, but when a member of the audience is murdered, young actor Will Shakespeare is the prime suspect and is thrown into jail. Playwright and part-time spy, Kit Marlowe, knows his friend is innocent and sets out to investigate. But when another body turns up, it seems the mystery is not a simple one.

This is the first time I’ve delved into MJ Trow’s massive oeuvre, which includes several book series (Lestrade, Maxwell, Marlowe etc). In this adventure, he spins an absorbing tale of murder, spies and money-lending. Having said that, while he paints a generally authentic picture of the times, the people and the minutiae of everyday life, his use of more modern language and modern expressions did occasionally jar with me.

For lovers of truly historic murder mysteries, it’s a clever and witty story that adds yet more layers to the legend that was Christopher Marlowe.