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    A MYSTERY OF ERRORS by Simon Hawke

    Forge, Tom Doherty Associates, December, 2000

    Symington Smythe has decided to become an actor and heads to London. During the voyage he meets up with William Shakespeare (who renames him Tuck) and the two voyage together to seek their fortunes on and behind the stage. Their theater careers are thrown into turmoil as Elizabeth, a woman trying to avoid marriage to a man she does not love, turns to Tuck for help.

    Tuck is torn between his attraction toward Elizabeth, his desire to act, and a growing mystery involving a man who is killed but turns up alive, a highway man who just might be one of the richest men in Elizabethan England, and the ongoing plotting between Catholic and Protestents.

    Simon Hawke (see more reviews of novels by Hawke) does a fine job describing the economically exciting period during which Elizabeth ruled, British sailors became patriots through piracy, and some of the finest plays in history were created. Although the subject matter is serious, Hawke keeps a light tone--I found myself laughing on several occasions. Shakespeare is presented as a genius with a drinking problem, but a man who will stand by his friends. Tuck is fully realized as a character. Even in the presence of the greats of England, he remains the hero of his own story and the hero of this novel.

    The mystery itself is not especially challenging. Indeed, fans of Shakespeare will recognize one of the Bard's favorite plots. Could it be that Shakespeare was actually retelling events from his own life? All right, that isn't likely. What is likely is that you'll find A MYSTERY OF ERRORS to be an amusing read.

    Four Stars

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