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Something Rotten

Something Rotten

4.4 7
by Alan Gratz

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Denmark, Tennessee, stinks. The smell hits Horatio Wilkes the moment he pulls into town to visit his best friend, Hamilton Prince. And it?s not just the paper plant and the polluted river that?s stinking up Denmark: Hamilton?s father has been poisoned and the killer is still at large. Why? Because nobody believes that Rex Prince was murdered. Nobody except Horatio


Denmark, Tennessee, stinks. The smell hits Horatio Wilkes the moment he pulls into town to visit his best friend, Hamilton Prince. And it?s not just the paper plant and the polluted river that?s stinking up Denmark: Hamilton?s father has been poisoned and the killer is still at large. Why? Because nobody believes that Rex Prince was murdered. Nobody except Horatio and Hamilton. Now they need to find the killer, but it won?t be easy. It seems like everyone in Denmark is a suspect. Motive, means, opportunity? they all have them. But who among them has committed murder most foul?

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up
This contemporary reworking of Hamlet is told through the voice of quick-witted Horatio Wilkes, who is visiting his boarding-school friend Hamilton Prince. Hamilton's father has been knocked off, and Horatio resolves to solve the crime. Denmark, TN, serves as the mill-town backdrop to the story, and the winking nods to Shakespeare's characters-including Olivia, Roscoe, and Gilbert-are mildly fun to observe. The author tries to remake the protagonist as a sexy Everyman who passes easily through town and into the good graces of its inhabitants, but it feels forced and unrealistic. Women can't resist the teen, apparently, and they all exist merely as a foil for his cadlike ways. When he tires of leering at Olivia and moves on, she has nothing else to do but wait until the end of the novel to kiss him. The fun quotient quickly dissolves for a conceit that had potential.
—John LeightonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Gratz is cornering the niche market of novels containing dissimilar topics. Here he combines Hamlet and hardboiled detective pulp. During a vacation from their academy, Horatio Wilkes accompanies his buddy Hamilton Prince to Denmark, Tenn. Just two months after his father passed away under suspicious circumstances, Hamilton's Uncle Claude has married Hamilton's mother. Claude now controls the Elsinore Paper Plant, a multibillion dollar company blatantly polluting the Copenhagen River. Horatio, with a knack for investigating, is determined to expose Claude's corruption while Hamilton, dismayed by what he believes is his mother's betrayal, drowns himself in alcohol. Ultimately, Horatio relies on environmentalist protester Olivia to reveal secrets about Elsinore. The many parallels to Hamlet are interesting, but Gratz wisely avoids producing a carbon copy of the tragedy. Horatio admirably plays the loyal friend but has a cocky voice that is too self-assured and as a teen rings unauthentic. However, this well-crafted mystery has appeal for readers familiar with both Raymond Chandler's novels and Shakespeare's masterpiece. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Horatio Wilkes Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Alan Gratz was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. After a carefree but humid childhood, he attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing and later a Master's degree in English education. In addition to writing plays, magazine articles, and a few episodes of A&E's City Confidential, Alan has taught catapult building to middle schoolers, written more than 6,000 radio commercials, and lectured as a Czech university. Currently, Alan lives with his wife Wendi and daughter Jo in the high country of western North Carolina, where he enjoys reading, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, watching baseball.

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Something Rotten 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Well written retelling of Hamlet in a modern setting..  I enjoyed as an adult, but the book is written for 13 year olds (give or take a couple years).  If they have seen Hamlet, there are things to spot.  If they haven't, the story is fine on its own and will make entry to the Bard easier when they see the source material (they'll have a general idea of the plot, which we always gave our kids when we took them to Shakespeare at an early age).  While it doesn't have the body count of the original, the book does cover serious ground and is not for the very young (but then neither is Shakespeare).  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Patito_de_Hule More than 1 year ago
Noir Hamlet In this hard-boiled teen retelling of Hamlet, Horatio Wilkes spends a summer in the small-town home of his buddy Hamilton Prince. The Prince family runs a paper plant which is currently undergoing scrutiny for pollution. On top of that controversy, Hamilton's father has just passed away, and his mother just married her dead husband's brother. When Hamilton gets a video from his dead father claiming that he'd been poisoned, Horatio promises to root out the murderer. Something is rotten in the town of Denmark, Tennessee.  This little mystery was funny (though neo-noir isn't my usual type of humor, I still got a few chuckles). The plot is pretty straight-forward if you already know the story of Hamlet, so I felt very little suspense - on the other hand, it was interesting to see how Gratz played around with the story to make it more appropriate to younger audiences. He managed to stay true to the events in the play, but made it more realistic and less tragic. There are a few Shakespeare quotes thrown in which made me roll my eyes and groan, but in a "good" way.  I'd say this book is appropriate for 11-15 year olds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book, buy now!!!!
LoganRobinson_MrsT More than 1 year ago
In Something Rotten, Alan Gratz basically portrays the story of Hamlet in a modern day story line. It starts with Horatio staying at his friend Hamilton's house for the summer. Before Horatio came to visit Hamilton's father died. After Horatio arrives a video tape comes up and its contents reveal that Hamilton's father didn't die of natural causes but of murder. Horatio then uses his cunning and detective skills to find the culprit. The list of suspects is plentiful; Claude, Hamilton's uncle, Olivia, Hamilton's ex-girlfriend and avid activist, or Trudy, mother who just recently married Claude. In the end Horatio catches the murder and Hamilton gets back with Olivia. This is a good book for teens that like the classics but with a modern twist. I liked this book because it was it was a good story and was a book that i didn't want to put down till i got done with the book. I liked the classic plot and story line even though it is just a modernization of Hamlet. Regardless this is a fantastic book for teen readers that like mysteries and twist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago