Edward Marston The Malevolent Comedy Review

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Harriet Klausner's review of Edward Marston The Malevolent Comedy


“The Malevolent Comedy ”

Written on: 29/06/2005 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

The Malevolent Comedy

Edward Marston

St. Martin's, Jul 2005, $23.95

ISBN: 0312342837

The Westfield Men troupe has fallen on hard times as attendance for their performances are meager and shrinking. Book-holder Nicholas Bracewell worries because playwright Edmund Hoode seems to suffer from writer's block. Knowing they need a quick fix if the group is to survive, puffed-up playwright Saul Hibbert is hired, but his conceit proves a handicap as the players detest his attitude and his failure to pay his bills at the Queen's Head Inn almost shuts down the performance.

However, Hibbert's first play starring the Westfield Men is a major success with the audience especially when one of the performers dies so realistically on stage from poison. Actually the actor really died from poisoning, but Bracewell saves the show. At the next performance, an incident also occurs; this leads Bracewell to conclude someone is trying to destroy their troupe either to get back at the new bard or to shut down this den of iniquities as many believe traveling acting troupes are sinners.

In his fifteenth Westfield Men mystery, Edward Marston does his usual terrific blending of Elizabethan Theater comedy of the absurd manners with a wonderful murder investigation. Readers taste the late sixteenth century through the interactions, foibles, and blunders of the prime players. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience wonders along with Bracewell who wants to insure the show does not go on.

Harriet Klausner

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