Shakespearean Whodunnits

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by Mike Ashley | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 9780786704828 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 6/2/2021
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, June 2, 2021
I got this softcover from Better World Books. It's a mystery anthology in which each of the stories is based on/inspired by a Shakespeare play. And it's a very good collection indeed, with many of the authors doing magnificent jobs of fitting their plots and interpretations into the settings of the plays, either as prequel/sequel scenes or as alternate viewpoints (with a few matching Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead levels of that!). I enjoyed the book so much that it's hard to select favorites, but I'll call out a few:

"Cinna the Poet" by Tom Holt: this one deals with the riots following Caesar's assassination, when the mob killed a poet named Cinna because he shared a name with one of the conspirators. The story's from the viewpoint of the poet's father, and gives a poignant look at the lives of Roman citizens during wildly disruptive periods - not to mention giving some respect to one of the many side characters in the play.

"Serpent's Tooth" by Martin Edwards treats with the events of King Lear, a generation later; anger, greed, madness and murder follow in the train of that tragedy.

"A Sea of Troubles" by Steve Lockley reinterprets Hamlet - I know, "how dare he?" {wry grin}, but that is sort of the point of this exercise - and includes some nicely-tweaked motivations that actually make a lot of sense.

"Much Ado About Something" by Susan B. Kelly recounts the events of Much Ado About Nothing from the viewpoint of one of the servants of Leonato (father of Hero), as she writes a letter to her mother. And things... are not quite as presented in the play, with some increasingly-disturbing yet all-too-believable twists, secrets upon secrets - and a chilling conclusion. Very effective, and one that might just color my interpretation of the filmed versions of this play in future.

"Murder As You Like It" by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre gives us an alternate look at As You Like It, in which Rosalind's disguise as Ganymede doesn't fool Orlando - though he finds he rather likes the idea of having her be a woman at times and a youth at others. But the story also suggests a fate for Duke Frederick that isn't in the play. (There are also some puns. I think Shakespeare would approve.)

"The House of Rimmon" by Cherith Baldry follows up on the events of Merchant of Venice a year later, with Bassanio now exceedingly happy and prosperous - and no longer recognizable to his friend Antonio, who feels lonelier than ever. When Lorenzo is found murdered in Bassanio's house, Portia must step in to solve a heinous crime - and Antonio finds himself confronting his own actions from a year before, when he meets Shylock again. This one pulls the rug out from under any "happy ending" concept from the original play, but in a way that feels all too believable - and that does have some elements of hope for some of the most-tried characters in the play.

Those were standouts for me, but I did enjoy nearly every story in the book, with the ones about the lesser-known plays having some advantages (I was surprised by the interpretation of the death of Prince Arthur in John T. Aquino's spin on King John), though the tales based on the best-known plays often rose to the occasion splendidly. Some stories featured major political interventions - characters whose actions swayed entire battles or wars - and very personal, one-on-one choices that caused (or concealed) murders. Really marvelous assortment!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, October 8, 2021

Released 1 wk ago (10/8/2021 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA

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I'm adding this to the Crime Scene/Mystery bookbox (bookbox journal with list of choices and replacements here); the box will be on its way to its next stop soon.

Journal Entry 3 by waternixie at Everett, Washington USA on Thursday, October 14, 2021
From the Crime Scene bookbox. I'll be passing this on .

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