"Interred With Their Bones", by Jennifer Lee Carrell
With an obvious nod to "The Da Vinci Code," Jennifer Lee Carrell has written a two-tiered academic action yarn in which the murder mystery rests on a literary question: Who was William Shakespeare?
Kate Stanley, a Shakespeare scholar turned stage director working at the famed Globe Theatre, is drawn into a centuries old puzzle when her mentor Roz is killed in the same manner as Hamlet's father. Like all good murder-mystery victims, Roz leaves a clue for Kate and so begins a literature-infused, two-continent search for a lost play and Shakespeare's true identity.
With strong characters and a swerving plot, Carrell gives us a fairly comprehensive background to the ongoing and lively academic debate centered on who really authored what are considered the most known and loved pieces of literature in the English language. Simply put, Shakespeare may have been merely a front man.
Besides issues about dates, scholars argue that to write Shakespeare's body of work, the author would have to have had an immense vocabulary, knowledge of foreign languages and access to the modes and morals of the upper-class; as a commoner, William Shakespeare had neither the knowledge nor access. The nobility, though, would have. The true author or authors, to remain anonymous, would have used Shakespeare as a public face.
Carrell's novel could have easily become mired in academics. After all, it is a great mystery in its own right. Luckily, Carrell knows when to rein it in: The facts don't like a lecture and do not overwhelm the action.
-- The Associated Press