Well over 300 years ago, a play written by William Shakespeare was performed on the stage. For centuries, the performance hasn’t been repeated. The manuscript went missing in the early days, presumed lost or destroyed. But was it? Professor Rosalind “Roz” Howard, of Stanford University, believes she has found clues to the whereabouts of the long-forgotten First Folio. It looks ominously like a dangerous and puzzling hunt, one that Professor Howard entrusts to only her one-time aide and friend, Kate Stanley. Handing Kate a box tied with ribbon, Roz conveys an urgent yet cryptic message designed to extract a promise from Kate. “If you open it, you must follow where it leads.”
In the three years since Kate left the university for the stage, she has been steadily carving a name for herself as an astute director of Shakespearean drama. Her latest --- and largest --- coup is a current production of Hamlet at London's Globe. It is scheduled to open in just three weeks, and Kate is on top of the world with the heady certainty of its colossal success. So why should she drop everything to take up a hunt for something that may or may not exist? Her Hamlet is a sure thing. Maybe, Kate muses, after the stage has been turned over to the actors, once her job is done. But for now, how can she leave?
When the Globe burns again --- on the anniversary of its first great fire --- and a body is found among the ashes, Kate cannot resist the pull to take up the adventure. She has little choice, no theater and at least one ally. Sir Henry Lee, the famous actor, is there to comfort Kate and help in any way he can. A celebrated thespian in his 60s, Sir Henry can open doors for Kate and iron out the kinks in the near-impossible route that lies before her. In addition, Roz hires a bodyguard in the form of Ben, a no-nonsense, no-questions-asked kind of guy with an obscure background and a quick mind.
Despite her talented escorts, Kate soon discovers that she is barely one step ahead of an ingenious killer. Bodies are piling up in her wake. How does the murderer know where she is headed next? Worse, First Folios are disappearing from every place Kate visits, and fires are breaking out just as she makes her escape.
Cavalierly ignoring her own safety, Kate continues to follow where Roz’s “gift” takes her --- and the police continue to follow where she takes them. They are as intent upon finding Kate as Kate is on finding the manuscript.
Besides being a highly entertaining mystery with the breakneck pace of THE DA VINCI CODE, INTERRED WITH THEIR BONES is an engaging debate on whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote all of the plays attributed to his name. Chockfull of arguments on both sides, filled with historical background and teasing quotes, it is no simple beach read. Extensive knowledge of Shakespeare isn’t necessary, but a passing acquaintance with his work certainly helps. Jennifer Lee Carrell’s debut novel is sure to spark rousing discussion in book circles.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011