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Interred with Their Bones: A Novelby Jennifer Lee Carrell
Synopses & Reviews
A long-lost work of Shakespeare, newly found.
A killer who stages the Bard's extravagant murders as flesh-and-blood realities.
A desperate race to find literary gold, and just to stay alive...
On the eve of the Globe's production of Hamlet, Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley's eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. But before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe burns to the ground and Roz is found dead...murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet's father. Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, high-stakes treasure hunt.
From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and decipher a tantalizing string of clues, hidden in the words of Shakespeare, that may unlock literary history's greatest secret. At once suspenseful and elegantly written, Interred with Their Bones is poised to become the next bestselling literary adventure in the tradition of The Thirteenth Tale and The Historian.
"Plot twists worthy of The Da Vinci Code dominate this agile first novel from Carrell (The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox), a thriller involving a lost Shakespeare play, The History of Cardenio. On a June day in 2004, at London's rebuilt Globe theater, Rosalind Howard, flamboyantly eccentric Harvard Professor of Shakespeare, gives her friend Katharine Stanley, who's directing a production of Hamlet at the Globe, a small gold-wrapped box. That evening, a fire damages the Globe, where Roz is found murdered in the same manner as Hamlet's father. Roz's mysterious gift, which contains a Victorian mourning brooch decorated with flowers associated with Ophelia, propels Kate on a wild and wide-ranging quest that takes her to Utah; Arizona; Washington, D.C.; and back to London. Every step of the way, as the bodies pile up, Kate narrowly escapes becoming the next murder victim. From Shakespeare conferences to desert mines, from the present to the past, this spirited and action-packed novel delivers constant excitement. Foreign rights sold in 20 countries. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Intriguing, fitfully brilliant and sometimes silly, Jennifer Lee Carrell's 'Interred With Their Bones' is one of the most perplexing novels I've ever read. Carrell is a Shakespeare scholar, and the great strength of her first novel is that it is all about the Bard, whose incomparable poetry and shadowy life are endlessly fascinating. The problem is that Carrell has tried to write a Shakespearean version... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of 'The Da Vinci Code' — her plot concerns the search for one of his lost plays — and while she writes far more interesting and skillful prose than Dan Brown, she is not his equal at constructing a thriller. 'Interred With Their Bones' can perhaps best be read as a lively intellectual romp, but even romps need to make sense as they hurry us from one dead body to the next. Carrell's heroine and narrator, Kate Stanley, is a comely American who is first seen directing a new production of 'Hamlet' at today's Globe Theater in London. Her friend and mentor Roz, a Shakespeare scholar from Harvard, comes for a visit, says she needs help, gives Kate a gift-wrapped box, and almost immediately is killed. Kate sets out to solve the mystery of her friend's death. Several rather vague clues lead her to believe she's on the trail of a play, 'Cardenio,' that was performed in Shakespeare's day but has not been seen since. Kate hurries to Harvard to examine Roz's papers and spends a frightening night in the Widener Library, where a shadowy figure pursues her in the darkness. That's one of the problems with the book; whenever Kate finds herself alone, some unseen menace intrudes. She hears a twig snap. She sees a shadow at the window. 'I heard, in the silence, a squeak, and a small sighing swish.' 'I felt cruel eyes watching me.' Since usually nothing happens, the device becomes tiresome. You start to imagine an editor telling her, 'It's time to scare them again.' Eventually, though, the menace becomes real. People start dying, usually Shakespearean deaths, modeled on those of Ophelia, Julius Caesar, Hamlet's father and so on. Kate herself is warned that she may suffer the fate of Lavinia, who was raped and mutilated in 'Titus Andronicus.' She finds a protector in manly Ben, who saves her in the Widener Library and joins her quest. And what a piece of work is Ben, as described in unaccountably purple prose: 'a body so hard it might have been carved from marble. ... His eyes drifted lazily across me, bringing to mind a leopard eyeing gazelles from the branches of a comfortable tree.' Kate and Ben set off on a journey that carries them from Boston to Utah to New Mexico to Washington (a reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library, a murder on the Capitol steps) and then back to London and Stratford before they buzz back to America for a showdown with the hellhounds on their trail. The story also moves about in time. Some of Carrell's finest writing comes in vivid flashbacks to Shakespeare's day. In one, she tells us more than scholars ever have about the Dark Lady of the Sonnets and the young man whom she and the poet both love. In another we meet the powerful and devious Howard family: young Frances Howard, already married to Essex, is said to be sleeping with both Prince Henry and the male lover of Henry's father, King James. This ancient gossip is relevant because Shakespeare reputedly included a version of this messy affair in 'Cardenio,' which is why, thanks to the scheming Howards, it was lost. Carrell squeezes in a great deal of Shakespeare lore and speculation. Did the Bard play a role in 'polishing' the great King James translation of the Bible? Might he have been Queen Elizabeth's secret son? We learn about Delia Bacon, the 19th-century American scholar whose obsession with Shakespeare drove her mad. And Carrell finds time to explore yet again the question of whether the man of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. She marches out all the usual suspects as alternatives and even adds a new possibility, 'the chimerical beast,' a kind of committee that used poor Will as their frontman. Ultimately, Carrell offers us too much lore, too much plot, too many characters in too many centuries. A little learning may be a dangerous thing, but an abundance of learning has its pitfalls, too, where novels are concerned. Carrell serves up colorful characters and lovely, lyrical writing, but then she lapses into lines such as 'I gave him a wicked grin' and 'Ben's mouth sketched a quick rueful grin.' There are too many murky clues and ancient documents that set the characters dashing off to another continent while the reader is still scratching his head in bewilderment. Of course, any novel about Shakespeare will offer the joys of snob appeal. (The first question on the exam, AP students, is: Who spoke the lines 'interred with their bones,' and in which play?) It was a pleasure to learn new facts and gossip about Shakespeare, but then I would come back to the implausible plotting and groan yet again. If you want to brush up on your Shakespeare, and are willing to overlook certain weaknesses, you might well enjoy 'Interred With Their Bones,' but for me it was just ... perplexing." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[A]n exciting debut literary thriller....Kate's use of her academic skills to decode letters and other historical artifacts will appeal to Da Vinci Code fans, the fast-paced globe-trotting action to Robert Ludlum readers, and the exploration of the Shakespeare mysteries to English majors everywhere. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Carrell effortlessly incorporates a mind-boggling amount of Elizabethan scholarship into the twist and turns of her plot....[A]n entertaining achievement." Houston Chronicle
"Intriguing, fitfully brilliant and sometimes silly....If you want to brush up on your Shakespeare, and are willing to overlook certain weaknesses, you might well enjoy Interred with Their Bones, but for me it was just...perplexing." Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Book World
"Jennifer Lee Carrell's brisk, byzantine novel owes debts to The Da Vinci Code and Possession, without quite measuring up to either. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"Besides being a highly entertaining mystery with the breakneck pace of The Da Vinci Code, Interred with Their Bones is an engaging debate on whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote all of the plays attributed to his name." BookReporter.com
On the eve of the Globe's production of Hamlet, Shakespearean scholar Kate Shelton is given what is claimed to be the Bard's long-lost work. When a killer decides to stage theatrical murders as flesh-and-blood realities, Shelton must decipher a string of clues before anyone else dies.
“A feverishly paced action adventure” (The New York Times) about a long-lost Shakespeare work and a killer who reenacts the Bard’s most bloody murders
Jennifer Lee Carrell’s highly acclaimed debut novel is a brilliant, breathlessly paced literary adventure. The action begins on the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet when Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. Before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe is burned to the ground and Roz is found dead…murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet’s father.
Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, highstakes treasure hunt. From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and solve a tantalizing string of clues hidden in the words of Shakespeare, which may unlock one of history’s greatest secrets.
About the Author
Jennifer Lee Carrell holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University and is the author of The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox. In addition to writing for Smithsonian magazine, Carrell has taught in the history and literature program at Harvard and directed Shakespeare for Harvard's Hyperion Theatre Company.
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