By Edward Marston
Poisoned Pen Press - December 2001
ISBN: 1890208833 - PB
Historical Crime - 1590s, London

Reviewed by: Rachel A Hyde,
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Here is another in the reprinted series of the exploits of Lord Westfield's Men, those argumentative players of the Elizabethan stage. In this fifth novel in the set, Laurence Firethorn is in love again, a fiery Welsh rising star is in trouble and Sebastian Carrick, a new and talented member of the troupe, gets murdered in an alley after leaving a brothel. Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth is purported to be dying while the powerful and their lackeys are splitting into factions and plotting to put various people on the throne. Then there is Nimbus, the performing horse who is about to fly to the top of St Paul's Cathedral…business as usual, in fact, for Lord Westfield's Men.

If you want a murder mystery where all else in the novel is subservient to finding out whodunit, then this might not be what you are after. Marston is adept at concocting a drama where all manner of things happen and there is certainly never a dull moment sorting it all out. The list-like banter between the various characters is oddly reminiscent of a radio play, perhaps even this is in keeping with the theatre theme, and the constant comedic star-crossed love gives it a feel of a 16th century comic drama. All in all, rather enjoyable, but I felt that not enough was made of the murder investigation that took a back seat throughout most of the book.

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