Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interred With Their Bones

MotherTalk asked me to review the academic thriller Interred with Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell, and I jumped at the chance. I love a thriller, and will read any type of academic thriller with joy. Although most people associate The DeVinci Code with academic thrillers, I don't. I much prefer a more psychological thriller where you get to learn about the subject matter at hand, but also more about the period than the characters themselves. Thus, Interred with Their Bones delighted me and held my interest as a mystery about a missing play by Willian Shakespeare. Because much of the action was held at my alma mater, Harvard University, and takes place in Cambridge as well as England, the Southwest of the US, and Washington DC, I was familiar with many of the buildings and places, having been there are a visitor or a student. That made the book easy to connect to, and more real for me personally.

Kate Stanley, Shakespeare scholar and Globe Theatre director is preparing for the opening of Hamlet when her ex-mentor and professor at Harvard, Rosalind Howard, flys in from Boston bringing Kate a small gold-wrapped box. That very evening, as Kate is supposed to meet Roz at a park, a fire damages the Globe, where Roz is found murdered in the same manner as Hamlet's father. Roz's mysterious gift box contains a Victorian mourning brooch decorated with flowers associated with Ophelia. The coincidences push Kate to go on a wild quest that takes her to Utah; Arizona; Washington, D.C.; and back to London, seeking answers to what happened to Roz and what the present Roz left with her meant. At every stop, the bodies pile up as Kate begins to unpiece the mystery of the missing play. But while Kate is searching, the question keeps popping up: Did Shakespeare really exist or was he the alter ego of another author or a group of authors? Between trying to prove that Shakespeare did exist, as Kate believes, and trying to find the missing manuscript, Kate is forced to question who is a friend, who is foe, and what they all want from the missing play.

This wild and wacky tale of Shakespeare, the wild west, a family gone rotten, and a lot of people trying to hide information takes readers to locations never associated in any way with Shakespeare. The story is based on fiction, but the basis is based on fact. There was a missing play, Shakespeare may or may not have existed, and scholars are still arguing over his existance. Regardless of the factual nature vs the ficticious nature of this book, it's a great tale that will keep you riveted to your seat as you try to put together the clues and figure out just who is the bad guy, and what they're all really searching for.

This is author Jennifer Lee Carrell's debut mystery, and a great start to a budding fiction career. Carrell's prose is crisp and her historical facts well-researched. An engrossing page-turner, Carrell's Shakespearean thriller will please mystery and Shakespeare lovers alike. I enjoyed this book much more than I initially thought I would. What could have been a dull read about academics turned into a stunningly crafted tale of intrigue, creepy characters, and a mystery that has kept academics arguing for decades. It contained all the right features to keep up my interest and enjoy a book that was an amazing debut for a very promising author.


utenzi said...

That sounds like a very good book, Margalit. I think I'll give it a shot.

Mama Zen said...

Excellent review! This sounds like something I would enjoy.

Michael said...

I truly hated this book. I felt like I needed a who's who of Elizebethan England to follow along and I very quickly found that I did not care how the book ended. A DaVinci rip off to say the least. Also, I knew who the villian was going to be within the first ten pages of the book.