The Shakespeare Secret, By JL Carrell

Sphere £6.99
Click to follow

When a killer is so tragic that he has to take Shakespeare's plays as his cue, you know two things: firstly, the quest to find him will involve a talisman. And secondly, the person writing such a story is not Umberto Eco.

Katharine Stanley, directing Hamlet at the Globe theatre, is given a parcel by her friend and guru Roz, the significance of which is not revealed until Roz is killed in a fire which destroys the Globe. In her mission to find her friend's killer, Kate is led away from Britain to America.

You can't help smiling. The Brits have failed to find Shakespeare in Britain so his secret must lie in the States, runs the hidden argument. The Shakespeare Secret is nonetheless glorious fun, given the freight of erudition it carries. I could have wished Kate less single-minded in her pursuit of Roz's killer and more alive to the body count around her. Likewise, speculations about the "real" Shakespeare don't really fit in this narrative – or in sensible discourse, for that matter.