Cover image for Mask of night
Mask of night
Gooden, Philip.
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : Carroll & Graf Publishers, [2004]

Physical Description:
281 pages ; 23 cm.
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Elizabeth I approaches the end of her illustrious reign, the plague is raging in London, and the Privy Council has ordered the theaters closed. Still, author Philip Gooden's fifth novel in the popular Shakespearean series brings us a great mystery as actor-sleuth Nick Revill and the Chamberlain's Men travel to Oxford, where a local physician, Dr. Hugh Fern, has commissioned a private performance of Romeo and Juliet. While Fern's motive is obscure--an attempt to reconcile two feuding families to the prospect of a marriage, perhaps; or maybe simply a ploy to get himself a role in the production--his fate is not. Indeed, he is decidedly dead, when his body is discovered during a performance at the Golden Cross Inn. No matter that the deceased lies inside a locked room or that the pestilence has followed the Chamberlain troupe from London, Revill is convinced Fern has not succumbed to natural causes. Nor is Fern's death the only one that rouses Revill's suspicions. The mysteries multiply as a strange band of men in cowls patrols the town at night, a simple carter meets a baffling end, and a corpse changes its shoes.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gooden may be the best history-mystery writer going. He deftly mixes acts of God with the artistic efforts of men in his series starring a poor player in Shakespeare's acting company, the Chamberlain's Men. In the fifth Nick Revill mystery, the plague, Queen Elizabeth's declining health, the approach of Lent, and a rift between two noble families all serve to prompt the Chamberlain's Men to hotfoot it out of London and set up temporary shop in Oxford. There the players are to perform Shakespeare's crowd-pleaser Romeo anduliet at the request of the Bard's old friend, who is trying to avert bloodshed between feuding families. But portents of doom abound: the plague appears on the outskirts of Oxford, a young woman belonging to the rival families asks Revill to watch for signs of poisoning in her sister, and men wearing demonic-looking masks crowd the night streets. When Shakespeare's friend is found dead in a locked backstage room on opening night, the mystery moves into high gear. Revill is a steadily developing, complex character who functions both as a commentator on the times and a guide to the intricacies of performing at the Globe and on the road. Bard buffs will appreciate his insider savvy, but there is much to enjoy here even for readers who don't know a quarto from a folio. Marvelous. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Due to the plague, player Nicholas Reville and the Chamberlain's Company leave London in 1603 for Oxford, where a doctor performing in Romeo and Juliet winds up dead-and not of the pestilence. A not very credible villain, a lack of Oxford local color and a plot contrived to make Reville look overly courageous (or foolish), however, mar Philip Gooden's Mask of Night, the fifth novel in this otherwise solid historical series. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved