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The Mad Courtesan [Paperback]

Edward Marston

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Book Description

Jan. 1 2002 Missing Mysteries (Book 39)
"In this riotous fifth novel...the tragedies being performed onstage pale in comparison to all the blood and thunder offstage." -The Washington Post Book World Though the lusty star of Lord Westfield's Men, Laurence Firethorn, is always ripe for seducing women bewitched by his art, the vicious rivalry that disrupts the acting troupe erupts between two other players. Owen Elias is a surly, envious Welshman, while Sebastian Carrick is an amiable and attractive gentleman. Their onstage duels become ever more realistic, but it is an axe that splits open Sebastian's head one night in a Clerkenwell alley. Company book holder Nicholas Bracewell, accustomed to damage control, begins to investigate the victim's death and learns that in life, he was prone to make enemies from his weakness for women and his willingness to welch on debts. A web of deception has in fact been spun that stretches from lowly to high ranking courtesans, all the way to the Virgin Queen. And what of the horse Nimbus, promised to perform Pegasus-like at the very top of St. Paul's Church? Edward Marston, under his real name, was raised in Wales and went on to study modern history at Oxford. He has been a university lecturer, radio, television, and theatre dramatist, and in addition to writing has worked as an actor, director, and dramatist. His Elizabethan novel, The Roaring Boy, was a 1996 Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee for best novel. He lives in Kent.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (Jan. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781890208837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890208837
  • ASIN: 1890208833
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 290 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,581,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Stage manager Nicholas Bracewell must juggle his company, his patron and a murder investigation in Marston's fifth Elizabethan-era theater mystery, which features political intrigue along with low and high comedy. Fellow actors in a troupe called Westfield's Men, Owen Elias and Sebastian Carrick are both considered for the coveted position of shareholder. Chief actor and leading shareholder Lawrence Firethorn decides to back Carrick, but before the successful candidate can learn of his good fortune, he is killed returning from a brothel. At the funeral, Bracewell promises Carrick's sister that he will find the murderer. Concurrently the future of Westfield's Men is in question as rumors circulate that Queen Elizabeth is dying: perhaps a new monarch might not be a drama lover, or might favor a rival patron. While Bracewell tackles these issues, gnarly Cornelius Gant and his wonder horse Nimbus catch the public's fancy, and a mystery woman tempts Firethorn to miss a performance. Marston ( The Nine Giants ) expertly juggles murder, the theater setting and the historical background of not-so-merry old England.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Historical mystery fans will appreciate the return of Nicholas Bracewell, stage manager for an Elizabethan acting troupe, as he looks for the murderer of an agreeable but foolhardy actor.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lively, engaging, complicated and fun May 27 2005
By Brian C. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Edward Marston's Nicholas Bracewell/Elizabethan mysteries are usually a lot of fun (at least all four that I've read), and this is a perfect example. The book teams with interesting characters, and features several plot lines (a performing horse, an amorous actor, a murdered actor, and a dying queen) in the 233 pages of this book. Fortunately the plots are all resolved to satisfaction. There's not a terribly great mystery, but that doesn't seem the point with this series. The melodramatic life of Westfield's Men, the acting troupe, is the real story here. However, one doesn't need to read the novels in order, or start at the beginning or anything. They are fun to read, and one can inadvertently learn a bit about Elizabethan England.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fifth of an Entertaining Series Nov. 29 2006
By J. Chippindale - Published on Amazon.com
Edward Marston is the pseudonym of Keith Miles, a fairly prolific and extremely good writer of mainly Elizabethan and medieval mysteries. He has also written mysteries under his own name with both sporting and golf backgrounds. However it is primarily the books that take place earlier in history that I am interested in. He read modern history at Oxford and has had many jobs, including university lecturer, but fortunately for all his readers, he turned to the writing profession.

Laurence Firethorn, star actor and seducer of women, who should know better, but who are bewitched by the charms of his profession, is always ready for a secret tryst or dalliance whenever he can. However it is from another quarter that jealous rivalry erupts in the troupe of actors. Two of the other players, Owen Elias, a surly Welshman and Sebastian Carrick an amiable and handsome gentleman doe not get on. Their on stage duels become ever more realistic, but it is an axe, not a sword that splits open Carrick's head one night in a Clerkenwell alley.

Nicholas Bracewell, the company's book holder (an important role in Elizabethan theatre) is used to sorting out the messes that his fellow actors get themselves into, begins to investigate the death and is surprised to find that Sebastian was prone to make enemies from his weakness for other men's women and also his habit of not paying his debts. Perhaps the likeable man that Nicholas knew, was not all he seemed . . .

Edward Marston bring to life the sights and sound of Elizabethan London so effectively that the reader almost feels transported back to the narrow stinking streets of old London town.

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