THE SLAYING OF THE SHREW by Simon Hawke
FORGE, December 2001
Tuck Smythe and his friend Will Shakespeare along with the Queen's Men, their theater company, are heading out of London to avoid the plague, and find a commission to play at a wedding. It should be a wonderful opportunity. Shakespeare has a chance to show his first play, and Tuck can visit with Elizabeth who serves as maid of honor to the bride. What could possibly go wrong? When the bride arrives, apparently murdered what can go wrong is frightfully apparent. Worse, the death of the shrewish older sister frees all the suitors to pursue the lustful Blanche--including the least scrupulous.
Author Simon Hawke (see our reviews of other novels by Simon Hawke) writes with a light comic touch, yet with an insight into young love and accurate although not overdone historical insights. Fans of William Shakespeare will get a laugh out of Hawke's ideas of where some of his ideas, and many of his well-known lines emerged. Protagonist Tuck is an interesting and likable hero with an ambition to be an actor almost as strong as his stage fright. The twists and turns of this mystery combine Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew with Romeo and Juliet and a bit of dozens of other plays.
Although it is a short novel, Hawke did spend a fair number of pages repeating what he'd already told the reader--clearly something to be avoided although, in the case of THE SLAYING OF THE SHREW, a fault that can easily be overlooked in the high quality and smooth writing.
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