Skip to main content

Book Review: The Shakespeare Murders by Sharon Gupta

The Shakespeare Murders by Sharon Gupta is a historical novel with Shakespeare as a central character in the book. Well, for an Indian writer, writing a cross cultural historical fiction is a thing of distant dream, but Sharon has done it like an expert historian, as she was born in that era, in that country.

The story is staged against seventeenth century England - the year is 1602. That time in England playhouses were used to be great source of entertainment for people, like today we have cinema halls and theaters. The playhouse Globe is a super hit one because Shakespeare is associated with it as a playwright and all the plays that are performed there are original ones, otherwise many playhouses are also in the business of making money by running false stories under the original titles. He works for Lord Chamberlain’s Men. There is a healthy competition among all playhouses, but Shakespeare’s playhouse leads the race.

The peace and success of Globe is piqued when two of its actors are murdered silently and the third one is thrown off the balcony. Chamberlain is an influential figure in Southwark and he wants to find out who the hell is knocking off his men, pushing his business off the track. Chamberlain requests Geoffrey Drake, a highly efficient knight with great detective skills, to solve the murder mystery. And from there starts the hunt.

Geoffrey Drake takes up a new identity as a Geoffrey Dupant and enters Globe posing as a distant cousin of Shakespeare from France. He knows naught about acting in the plays and also at the same time one real rancorous cousin of Shakespeare appears in the picture. That’s there he struggles a bit to get into the ambience.

As he commences the investigation, he visits the slums of Southwark and there an old lady, who sells flowers, gives him his first break. She passes out a vague idea of the murderer. As the story advances, the list of suspects grows long. At one point too many people look involved but that’s not the case with crime thrillers, readers need to read till the last page of the book to know the exact culprits as well as their motive. Richard Burbage the lead actor of the playhouse comes under the purview of suspicion when his signature was found on a note with the first player who died. Well, the note was not original.

There are other playhouse owners that try to poach Globe’s actors and playbooks, so they are also drawn in the curtains of doubt but every time Drake finds that some or other edge of proof is missing. Since Shakespeare is only the playwright there, thus he too was suspected. But why would he kill his own players? It soon clears when a man dressed as a maid tries to kill him and also he was saved by Drake at Chamberlain’s Ball. Someone was behind his life: it became evident halfway the book. With too many suspects around, the task of Drake becomes impossible from difficult. Would he be able to solve it to prove his knightly and detective skills?

After some time the knight Drake takes the charge of the book, but Shakespeare remains with the readers even when he is out of the plot. Well, for Shakespeare lovers this book is a treat, and surely new readers will get to know a lot about the time when the literary hero Shakespeare himself was there as one of the central characters. 


  1. Many thanks, Zahid for a detailed and wonderful review. I couldn't have put it better!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poem Summary: Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Poem by Rabindranath Tagore: Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. Short Summary: This poem is written by Rabindranath Tagore during pre-independence days, when India was a colony of the British. The underlying theme of the poem is absolute freedom; the poet wants the citizens of his country to be living in a free state. According to the poem, we see that the poet is expressing his views there should be a country, like where people live without any sort of fear and with pure dignity…they should

Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

Among all Ruskin Bond books, The Blue Umbrella has, so far, gathered immense applaud from readers and critics alike.  This is a short novel, but the kind of moral lessons it teaches to us are simply overwhelming. This is a story of Binya, a poor little girl living with her mother and an elder brother, Bijju, in a small hilly village of Garhwal. One day while herding her two cows back home, she stumbles upon some city people enjoying the picnic in the valley. She is enthralled to see them well-groomed and rich. She craves to be one like them and among many other things of their, a blue frilly umbrella catches her attention. She begins craving for it. On the other hand, the city people get attracted by her innocent beauty and the pendant in her neck. The pendant consists of leopard’s claw – which is considered a mascot widely in the hills. Binya trades her pendant off with the blue umbrella. The blue umbrella is so much beautiful that soon it becomes a topic of conversation fo

Poem Summary: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias is a short poem of fourteen lines written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The concurrent theme of the poem is that nothing remains intact and same forever in this world. Even the brightest of metal, one day decays with passage of time. The throne name of Egyptian King Ramesses is Ozymandias. It was his dearest desire to preserve himself forever by building a huge statue that he thought would never tumble down. Stanza 1: I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; Summary: The poet narrates the poem through the eyes of a traveler who seems to have come back from a remote and far-away land, referring to Egypt. The traveler r