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SHAKESPEAREAN WHODUNNITS by Mike Ashley

SHAKESPEAREAN WHODUNNITS

By Mike Ashley

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7867-0482-9

 Twenty-five almost new stories (the oldest, Susan B. Kelly's sly ``Much Ado About Something,'' dates back to 1994) exposing the felonious underside of Shakespeare's plays from Henry VI to The Winter's Tale. Editor Ashley (The Chronicles of the Round Table, p. 1422, etc.) has enlisted a cadre of contributors more likely to be familiar to sf/fantasy buffs than to mystery-lovers. Mary Reed and Eric Mayer give Richard III a self-excusing soliloquy on Bosworth Field; Stephen Baxter provides a criminal epilogue to A Midsummer Night's Dream; Patricia McKillip offers an informal inquest into the deaths of Romeo and Juliet; Kim Newman speculates on why the world of Twelfth Night is so maddened; Darrell Schweitzer asks who killed Falstaff. Mostly, however, the stories propose unlikely culprits for the murder plots of Richard II (Margaret Frazer), Hamlet (Steve Lockley), Othello (Louise Cooper), Macbeth (Edward D. Hoch), and As You Like It (F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre). There's no shortage of ingenuity, but (except for Kelly's ebullient tale) also not much sense of fun or (except for Martin Edwards's chilling epilogue to King Lear) much conviction in establishing the malefactors' motivations. Rosemary Aitken's suave, dense postlude, ``The Collaborator,'' shows how much easier it is to succeed at the historical mystery when you're not taking characters carefully fashioned for one purpose by the greatest English dramatist and twisting them to another.