Forge, Dec 2002, 23.95, 30 pp.
After leaving their hamlet for cash, wannabe playwright Will Shakespeare and his equally hopeful thespian Tuck Smythe think all's well as they are on the brink of fame (and steady meals with decent ale) when the plague strikes. To reduce the chance of the epidemic spreading, theaters are closed. With the halls shut, Will markets a sonnet romance writing business while Tuck toils at a smithy.
Former troupe player Ben Dickens introduces Will and Tuck to his friend, goldsmith Corwin. who loves Hera, the daughter of wealthy Genoa ship trader Master Leonardo, who recently relocated to Britain. When Hera's reputation goes into a tankard, a hurt Corwin ends their engagement. However, someone murders Leonardo with Corwin considered the prime suspect. Will, Tuck, and Ben scrutinize the crime and the victim, only to learn that when it comes to an Elizabethan tragedy in which the world is the investigative stage, homicide is Much Ado About something deadly to the actors.
The third Shakespeare and Smythe sleuth story is an exciting historical mystery that engages the audience with its insight into the Bard and the era he wrote his great works. Though the plot moves slower than the first two novels as the who-done-it fails to take the stage until the fourth act, fans will relish the relationship, oft dysfunctional, between the protagonists. Will and Smythe accompanied by Ben set forth on A MYSTERY OF ERRORS while trying to solve THE SLAYING OF THE SHREW'S FATHER. MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is much ado about strong writing that thou the reader will taketh to enjoy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner