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    Review of THE PALE COMPANION by Philip Gooden


    Carroll & Graf, 2002

    Actor Nick Revill and the playing company to which he belongs have left London to play for a nobleman's wedding. As the wedding is to occur at midsummer, Shakespeare's play A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM is planned. Before he even reach the manor, however, Nick is attacked at an amateur play, haunted by a pale ghost-like being, and tended to by a beautiful girl. The reluctant looking groom tells Nick that there is more to the marriage than pure bliss--but even these premonitions don't prepare him for murder.

    With the occasional assistance of Justice of the Peace Adam Fielding, Nick tries to get to the bottom of the death of a strange wild man found hung, an apparent suicide. The dead man had hinted at a secret when he'd met Nick--and Nick fears that the secret may be buried with him. What he doesn't expect is that the wild man's death will be the first of several--and that he will be thrust in the midst of a mystery that may prove fatal to himself.

    Author Philip Gooden writes convincingly of the stage during Shakespeare's day as English theater is still emerging from its earlier, more primative roots. Nick is convincing as a young man, filled with hormones, proud of what he has accomplished as an actor, and yet unwilling to accept the death of even a crazed man without questioning it. The mystery itself is enjoyable with plenty of twists and turns, false trails, and hidden motives. Gooden leaves a few red herrings unexposed and complicates matters a bit at the end, but delivers a fine story.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 10/04/02

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