Reviewed: December 28, 2005
By: Sarah Smith
Publisher: Washington Square Press
352 pages, $18.50
No, you havenít misread this title.
The word is plural, reflecting the fact reflecting the fact that the central
quest of this mystery is to uncover the true identity of the Bard of Avon
and that there are many contenders.
Yes, this is a question to which many
answers have been given over the centuries, and so many people have been advanced
as the True Author of those plays and sonnets, only to be discredited, that
one is left to wonder why people canít leave well enough alone.
Thatís what Joe Roper thinks at the
beginning of this story. Heís a graduate student in English Lit., who has
just inherited the task of wading though what is supposed to be a fabulous
collection of Elizabethan papers collected by his academic mentor. Most of
them turn out to be trash forgeries, but one, which seems to be genuine, purports
to have been written by one W. Shakespeare of Stratford, and it claims what
many have averred, that William was just a front man for a better educated
upper class scribbler who didnít want to be found out.
Joe might have set it aside and given
up, but heís seduced (in more ways than one) into following the clues by rich,
beautiful Posy Gould, who whisks him off to England to work on the mystery.
The self-confessed ďhick from VermontĒ
is no match for Posyís wiles, and soon finds himself on a literary scavenger
hunt that compares in complexity to the search for the Holy Grail in The
Da Vinci Code, except that nobody dies in this clue fest.