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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Interred with their Bones

After many hours of listening — and I do mean many — I have finally finished the audiobook version of Interred with Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell. At times I wasn’t sure whether it was worth slogging through to the end, but I like to listen to something when taking a walk, and Interred with Their Bones held my attention sufficiently.

As you can tell, I am mostly unenthusiastic about this mystery novel. I am told that it was inspired by the DaVinci Code, but I guess I’ll never know, since I steadfastly refuse to read any more Dan Brown after suffering through Digital Fortress. They say that Carrell is a better writer than Brown, but that’s not hard, as I’m not the first to observe. In any case, Carrell combines implausible but exciting action with long academic passages about Shakespeare’s lost play Cardenio and the long-standing controversy about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. As something of an academic myself, I found these discussions reasonably interesting, though not very suitable to the audiobook format. The action scenes seemed more like a treatment for a subsequent movie. Shakespearean themes run throughout the novel, from the characters' professions as actors, directors, and professors through the Shakespearean locales and staged events intended to mimic Shakespearean scenes to the characters’s names (Rosalind, Kate, Henry, Athenaide). Well, I don’t think that Athenaide is actually a Shakespearean name, but it could just as well be.

This novel belongs to the genre in which it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that there are several plot twists that are not too severely telegraphed. Some reviewers found Interred with Their Bones to be fast-paced. I did not. I’ll admit that it’s breathless, and maybe that qualifies. Also, there’s far too much wanton killing. Read it if you’re interested in Shakespearean issues and academics, but don’t bother if you’re looking for thrills and actions.

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