Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe’s college years turn out to have included a bit of amateur detection.
Before Marlowe set on the career path that made him famous, he was known as Kit, a principled Matthew Parker scholar trying to graduate with his cohort. When he discovers fellow scholar Ralph Whitingside’s body, Marlowe refuses to rest until he leads the other lads in a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s death. Assisted by the quirky but able Dr. John Dee, Marlowe learns that Ralph’s so-called suicide is part of something larger. His suspicions are all but confirmed when an unknown woman’s body mysteriously washes ashore, even though the local law refuses to see the pattern Marlowe is certain looms in the background. The moody and divisive Marlowe has his fair share of adversaries, and his quest for truth is hampered by his enmity with everyone from his teachers and proctors to local villagers. While Marlowe is known for his straightforward nature, the more he investigates, the more he is certain that a foe may be masquerading as a friend. The tension absent from the early scenes finally builds as Trow (Jack Ripper: Quest for a Killer, 2009, etc.) rallies his cast for a suspenseful conclusion.
Readers enamored of the customs of the time are most likely to welcome this mystery of manners. The less historically well-informed may struggle to keep up with the details that make all the difference.