Monday, January 12, 2015

The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The School of Night by Colin Falconer

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: January 11, 2015

“My name is William Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare; and no jests please, I’ve heard them all. I’m the other one, the ne’er do well cousin, the loafer, known to family and friends as the dunce, the one who could not recite Cicero or Horace, who could never be as good as his clever cuz, the one who has just come to Bishopsgate from Stratford with silly dreams in his head and a longing to make something more of himself than just a glover’s handyman.” What he finds in London is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, who is willing to pass a few shillings to this blundering brawler if he will help her find her husband. Poor William does not realize the trail will lead to the truth behind the death of Shakespeare’s great rival, Christopher Marlowe – or to a lifelong love affair with a woman far above his station. Each book tells the story of William’s adventures as England’s first gumshoe, set against turbulent Elizabethan politics; of his romantic pursuit of the impossible Elizabeth Talbot; while charting the career of his up and coming dramatist cousin, the bard of Stratford, but just Will to his family.

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Christopher Marlowe
William Shakespeare has his moments, but he's not one of my top ten favorite authors, doesn't even make the top twenty, so accepting books in which he or his work appear is really dependent on how I'm feeling when I stumble over the title. Case and point, The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The School of Night. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have given the book a second glance, but I was in the mood for something fun and Falconer's offbeat historical looked a good fit. 

I'm sure everyone knows appearance isn't everything, so I'm happy to say the unconventional idea delivered. Despite the odds, Falconer managed to avoid the stale stereotypes that plague these stories and offer up an action-packed narrative that was nothing short of entertaining. Historically speaking there is plenty of darker period detail to sink one's teeth into and I felt the author's nod to Marlowe and Kyd added much to the narrative.

William is a relatable protagonist and I liked that he wasn't particularly adept in his profession. He's intensely relatable and I think that played nicely against the persona of his famed cousin. I was less impressed with Elizabeth Talbot and the mystery itself wasn't as complex as I'd have liked, but it wasn't bad and I liked the hurdles William was forced to overcome in its unraveling. 

While not my typical fare, I found The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The School of Night well worth the time I spent with it. Amusingly original and extremely creative. 

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“Jaded? Why should I be jaded? I have been in London for ten years, and what do I have to show for it? A handful of plays and ten shillings a week. And Marlowe’s shadow hanging over everything.”
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Check Out All the Stops on Colin Falconer's The School of Night Blog Tour Schedule


Saturday, January 10
Spotlight at Historical Readings and Views
Monday, January 12
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, January 13
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Thursday, January 15
Interview at Teddy Rose Book Reviews
Friday, January 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Monday, January 19
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Tuesday, January 20
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, January 22
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, January 23
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Saturday, January 24
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
Sunday, January 25
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Monday, January 26
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Wednesday, January 28
Review at Carpe Librum
Thursday, January 29
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Friday, January 30
Review at Brooke Blogs
Friday, February 6
Spotlight at Passages to the Past


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