Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Interred with Their Bones.
You hear the name "William Shakespeare" right off the bat in relation to a book’s topic, and you instantly think of thrills, chills, action, adventure, and mystery, right? Well, you should, you know, because you might be one of the lucky ones whose optimism pays off - for instance, in the case of Jennifer Lee Carrell’s remarkable novel of twists, turns, murders, and maddeningly conniving Elizabethan politics, Interred with Their Bones. The book involves the search for one of Shakespeare’s lost plays, Cardenio, a script that is potentially worth millions of dollars. It is a play that could rekindle ancient scandals and potentially resolve the question about who the true author of the First Folio plays credited to William Shakespeare actually was.
When Shakespearian expert Katherine Stanley, set to direct Hamlet at the Globe Theatre in London, takes the job and hires Sir Henry Lee for the role of the ghost of Hamlet’s father, little does she suspect that it will lead to death of one of her best friends, Roz, and a fire that almost destroys the recreated Globe. It is no coincidence that the fire is on June 29th., a Tuesday. The conflagration that destroyed the original Globe was on June 29th - in 1613. Whoever is behind the fire and the death of Rosalind Howard wants to be as theatrical as possible, even staging the Roz’s death to resemble the murder of Hamlet’s father.
Both deaths involve poison and ears. The king has a poison identified as “hebona” poured into his ear as he sleeps by Claudius, his brother; Roz is injected with something more mundane, but just as deadly, behind her right ear:
“It was potassium. So much for the mysterious ‘juice of cursed hebona in a vial.’ Nothing more than a simple solution of potassium, injected into her neck. Easily
found, easily used, quickly fatal, and virtually untraceable.”
Rosalind Howard, though she dies fairly early in the book, plays an important part in the plot. She is a major role model for Kate, who thinks of her as a “flamboyantly eccentric Harvard Professor of Shakespeare - part Amazon, part earth mother, part gypsy queen.” When she shows up in the first chapter, she gives Kate a curious and interesting gift that is also a clue to the location of Cardenio, which is based on a subplot of Cervantes’ picaresque Don Quixote. The gift carries with it a price. Roz tells her that
“If you open it, you must follow where it leads.”
“Where it leads” turns out to cover a wide range of territory. Kate and Ben Pearl, who tells her that he is a nephew of Roz’s and that she hired him to help protect Kate, travel to various locales in England, Spain, and the United States following clues to where the play might be. Along the way, more fires are set, more First Folios are either destroyed or stolen, and more bodies pile up, each killed in a manner that resembles the death of a character in a Shakespearian play. There’s the “Half Navajo, half Paiute” woman Maxine Tom who works in Utah as “an assistant professor of English and director of a small archival library among the red rocks and juniper of Utah’s high desert.” Kate and Ben have traveled to Utah to track down clues they believe can be found in a letter Jeremy Granville, a Shakespearian cowboy actor and “gambling prospector,” wrote. Her body is discovered, not long after Kate and Ben leave Utah:
“Some playgoers found her last night, floating in the archive’s koi pond, her hair
rippling like a mermaid’s, her skirt spread wide about her. She was drowned.”
Interred with Their Bones is that elusive sort of novel that combines successfully history and intellectual themes with a thrilling, suspenseful murder mystery. The result is an extremely entertaining page-turner that is sure to please mystery afficionados. Like Don Quixote, it is a wide-ranging picaresque novel in its own right, a book that will keep you guessing and wondering who is friend, who is foe, until the very end. Add Interred with Their Bones to your reading list today.
She’d been transformed into Ophelia.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Douglas R. Cobb, 2007