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by M.J. Trow

Pub Date: July 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-78029-129-1
Publisher: Creme de la Crime

The onstage tragedy in Christopher Marlowe’s new play is rivaled by dark offstage mysteries swirling around him.

1592. Problems plague Kit Marlowe’s new theatrical project from the start. At the elderly Queen Elizabeth’s insistence, Marlowe’s been saddled with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a troupe of inexperienced actors. His decision to produce his friend and housemate Thomas Kyd’s play The Spanish Tragedy is rejected, leading to a difficult conversation with Kyd and the harder challenge of writing a new play. Marlowe comes up with The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England. John Foxe, one of his actors, is found dead with a knife sticking out of him in the whorehouse of Mistress Isam. Moll, the sweet blonde prostitute who serviced Foxe, is both inconsolable and unhelpful in Marlowe’s efforts to get some insight into the killing, but the sometime sleuth is determined to learn more. Things take an even darker turn when Moll dies one cold night while on the job. The details her grief-stricken friend Jane lays out are murky, and Jane's description of Moll’s last client is too generic to be helpful. Meanwhile, the show must go on. Rigorous rehearsals alternate with Marlowe’s attempts to investigate the two recent deaths. The pressure on Marlowe to finish the announced play is alleviated when friendly rival Will Shaxsper (sic) provides some pages he’s able to incorporate. But more murders deepen the mystery and challenge Marlowe further.

Marlowe’s 11th case is short on sleuthing but long on theatrical travails and backstage bitchery.