Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: The Marlowe Conspiracy

Title: The Marlowe Conspiracy
Author: M. G. Scarsbrook
Genre: historical fiction
Price: $2.99 (ebook) $11.99 (paperback)
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1456310967
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

I recently received an electronic copy of M. G. Scarsbrook’s historical novel The Marlowe Conspiracy. Christopher “Kit” Marlowe was a real person, a contemporary of Shakespeare, and both a playwright and spy for Elizabeth I. The book is set in the last few weeks of Marlowe’s life, which history tells us ended in a brawl in a tavern in 1593. As fits a novel about a playwright, the book is divided not into chapters but Acts and Scenes. The book also comes with a couple of helpful maps, and author’s notes which outline where Scarsbrook parts from the historical record. Lastly, my ebook came with an extended sample of Scarsbrook’s next novel, Poison in the Blood.

I found The Marlowe Conspiracy to be a book with high production values, and a great deal of historical research. There’s a lot of action and intrigue as well as some romance, which makes this a novel that should be pleasing to everybody. All of that is the good news.

The bad news is that, for me, I found Kit Marlow’s character underwritten, and actually a bit dim. There is a scene early in the book in which Kit has to sneak out of France and has disguised himself as a doctor. Despite being an actor and educated, Kit’s performance is lacking. This is followed up by a scene with which Kit’s company is performing a play for the Queen, yet the final scene is sitting in Kit’s pocket, depending on him getting to the performance to deliver it to his actors during the intermission. These episodes caused me to lose faith in the lead character.

Overall, I found The Marlowe Conspiracy an entertaining read, but I wish that Marlowe, the key character, had been better developed.

Rating: 7/10

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