Mask of Night: A Shakespearean Murder Mystery

Overview

Elizabeth I approaches the end of her illustrious reign, the plague is raging in London, and the Privy Council has ordered the theaters closed. Still, author Philip Gooden's fifth novel in the popular Shakespearean series brings us a great mystery as actor-sleuth Nick Revill and the Chamberlain's Men travel to Oxford, where a local physician, Dr. Hugh Fern, has commissioned a private performance of Romeo and Juliet. While Fern's motive is obscure—an attempt to reconcile two feuding families to the prospect of a ...

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Overview

Elizabeth I approaches the end of her illustrious reign, the plague is raging in London, and the Privy Council has ordered the theaters closed. Still, author Philip Gooden's fifth novel in the popular Shakespearean series brings us a great mystery as actor-sleuth Nick Revill and the Chamberlain's Men travel to Oxford, where a local physician, Dr. Hugh Fern, has commissioned a private performance of Romeo and Juliet. While Fern's motive is obscure—an attempt to reconcile two feuding families to the prospect of a marriage, perhaps; or maybe simply a ploy to get himself a role in the production—his fate is not. Indeed, he is decidedly dead, when his body is discovered during a performance at the Golden Cross Inn. No matter that the deceased lies inside a locked room or that the pestilence has followed the Chamberlain troupe from London, Revill is convinced Fern has not succumbed to natural causes. Nor is Fern's death the only one that rouses Revill's suspicions. The mysteries multiply as a strange band of men in cowls patrols the town at night, a simple carter meets a baffling end, and a corpse changes its shoes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Due to the plague, player Nicholas Reville and the Chamberlain's Company leave London in 1603 for Oxford, where a doctor performing in Romeo and Juliet winds up dead-and not of the pestilence. A not very credible villain, a lack of Oxford local color and a plot contrived to make Reville look overly courageous (or foolish), however, mar Philip Gooden's Mask of Night, the fifth novel in this otherwise solid historical series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nick Revill (Alms for Oblivion, 2003, etc.), watching as the plague ravages London, discovers that the fear and ignorance surrounding King Pest may be as deadly as the disease itself. The mounting death toll forces the Chamberlain's Men, the only acting company in London to boast William Shakespeare as sharer and playwright, to tour the provinces. The first stop is Oxford, where they plan a private performance of Romeo and Juliet. Dr. Hugh Fern, a boyhood friend of Shakespeare's, has arranged a performance for two families under his care-the Sadlers and the Constants, families with a long history of conflict, now united by the impending marriage of William Sadler and Sara Constant. When Nick befriends the bride's cousin Susan, she consults him about Sarah's health. Could someone be poisoning the frail and inoffensive bride? In any case, the show must go on. So Dr. Fern treads the boards himself as Friar Lawrence for a public performance of the tragedy. The good doctor acquits himself respectably as the good friar until intermission, when he's found stabbed to death in a locked room backstage. Shakespeare steps into the role for the Friar's next cue, but Nick is the one who must sort out the mysteries offstage. Lots of interesting detail about playing and plague, but the lunatic serial killer subplot doesn't quite mesh with the more rational history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786713127
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/9/2004
  • Pages: 281
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.09 (d)

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