This is a Mother Talk book review.
Interred With Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell, is a roller coaster of a book, weaving the mystery of the whereabouts of one of Shakespeare's lost plays with the mystery of the actual identity of Shakespeare himself.
I love books like this. Big, fat, entertaining books that assume you know a bit about the subject at hand. Books that take you on a rollicking ride while never pandering or talking down to you. Books that have you on the edge of your seat, eager to find out What Happens Next. Best of all, they're based on actual facts and real history. These books are fun, especially when you stop and think about history. People get intimidated - "Oh, I could never get my head around historical fiction." Codswallop. Of course you can - all history is is gossip, gussied up and given the patina of age.
On to the plot:
Kate, a stage director at the New Globe theatre in London, is drawn into this mystery by her former mentor, Rosalind Howard. Roz gives her a gift and begs Kate to follow it where it leads. When the Globe is burned and Roz is killed - in a way that mimics the death of Hamlet's father - Kate sets out to discover the secrets behind Roz's gift: A Victorian mourning brooch featuring flowers that that are associated with Ophelia.
Kate is accompanied on her hunt by two people; Sir Henry and Ben Pearl, Roz's nephew. The plot twists and turns as the group is chased across Europe and America in search of the answers to these great literary mysteries. People double- and triple-cross each other, and as each Shakespeare-inspired murder mounts up, the tension ratchets up another notch. The ending is one, huge, breathless chase that had me turning pages at a furious rate, anxious to find the answers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well-paced and had plenty of twists and turns (although I will admit to having my suspicions about one of the characters very early on). The author seems to not only know the plays of Shakespeare inside and out but also the history behind who he was and the ongoing debate over whether he even existed at all.
I'm not a Shakespearean expert, nor have I read that many of his plays, but I didn't find that to be a detriment. Instead, I found myself wanting to read his plays (I own them all - thank you, Grandma) and I'm very interested in learning more about Shakespeare's life. A book that can draw me in like that and pique my curiosity is all right with me. When there are so many dreckish mysteries out there (I'm looking at you, Mr. Patterson *ahem* ), something intellectual yet readable, challenging but intensely satisfying is a wonderful find. I'll definitely be recommending this one to my friends and family. I give it four out of five stars.