Click here to read reviewer Douglas R. Cobb's take on Interred with Their Bones.
Carrell blends past and present in an inventive novel that leads a young protagonist on a chase to be the first to find an immensely valuable document: the missing play of William Shakespeare. From coast to coast and the hallowed halls of academia, this is a novel meant for the Shakespeare aficionado, rife with couplets and rumors, mapping out a journey that will leave dead bodies in its wake.
The few chapters set in London in 1613 offer some idea of the great stakes behind Shakespeare’s plays and the Globe Theater, which burns to the ground in 1616. But in real time, London 2004, Shakespearean scholar Kate Stanley is preparing to launch a new career as a director, her debut “Hamlet”.
Approached on the afternoon of the play by an old friend, albeit one estranged for years, Rosalind Howard, Harvard Professor of Shakespeare, thrusts a gold-wrapped box into Kate’s hand with an urgent request for help. The two women arrange a rendezvous that night, but while Kate stands on a hill awaiting Roz, her beloved Globe goes up in flames. Rushing back, Kate finds Rosalind’s lifeless body in her office, the first of many artfully arranged killings, each related to one of Shakespeare’s plays.
As yet unaware of what lies ahead, Kate throws herself into the mystery of Rosalind’s death, feeling responsible, urgently needing to redeem herself. Avoiding a determined police detective, Kate depends instead on an old friend, actor Sir Henry Lee, and a new acquaintance, Benjamin Pearl, who claims to be related to Roz.
Following the careful clues Roz has planted for her, each couched in the Bard’s words, Kate begins a dangerous pursuit from London to Harvard to Utah, Spain and Washington, D.C., bodies strewn in her wake. Stubbornly refusing to abandon her quest, Kate becomes obsessed, as was Rosalind, with the potential enormity of the discovery, unable to pay attention to those who suggest caution in the face of menace.
With Ben’s security connections opening doors that allow her to evade the police - and hopefully the killer - the convoluted trail leads Kate and Ben to eccentric collectors and those who dispute Shakespeare’s identity, religiously applying their arguments to more plausible noblemen than the lowly playwright. Kate persists, eventually turning on those she thought were friends, only to be caught up in yet another level of a very serious game.
Although occasionally tedious, by the time Kate is in a confrontation that reveals villains and heroes alike, Shakespeare’s secrets, such as they are, remain forever in the dark. Reminiscent of The DaVinci Code for its scrupulous attention to detail and the convoluted agendas of those who would own history’s answers, this is a compelling tale of genius and greed, neither mutually exclusive.