*I received this book as an eARC from Exhibit A/Angry Robot on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
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Title: Rotten at the Heart
Author: Bartholomew Daniels
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Synopsis: London, 1596. With their patron's mysterious death and their Puritan landlord's sudden determination to evict them, William Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain's Men teeter on the brink of ruin. So when the new Baron Carey--son of their late sponsor--reveals to Shakespeare his suspicions that his father was murdered, and demands that Shakespeare use his own powers of observation to ferret out the killer in exchange for Carey's continued patronage, Will has little choice but to agree.
Shakespeare juggles his duties to his troupe with a desultory attempt at playing shamus, only to find himself attacked by a hooded swordsman, his reputation besmirched by a vicious anonymous pamphleteer, and his every move marked by a strange man with a hideously scarred and deformed nose. His professional life unraveling, Shakespeare must now face a personal life destroyed by the tragic consequences of a failed affair, the death of his son Hamnet, and his estrangement from his wife, Anne.
Driven at last to serve the truth, Shakespeare uncovers plots inside plots--some stemming from historical ills, some from the new evils of the burgeoning stock exchange, and all seeming aimed as much at Shakespeare as at his late patron. Rooted in historical fact and written in Will's own accessibly Elizabethan voice, Rotten At the Heart explores the intersection of religion, politics, and corruption, and underscores the sacrifices that honor demands when a troubled man finally discovers his own.
Why?: Shakespeare as a detective? I was totally hooked from that alone! I can't wait to find out how Shakespearean works are tied into this book, and how historical fact is woven into crime fiction. It just sounds like a really good time! I also love a good mystery, so this sounds like it will be great.
Expectations: I've never read anything by Bartholomew Davis and I've also never read any books about Shakespeare or from his point of view, so I'm not really sure what to expect. I hope that the story is good and twisty, and that I can separate fact from fiction and recognize subtle references to the more popular Shakespearean plays/sonnets/etc.
Judging a book by its cover: I really like the simplicity of this cover. It reminds me of a chalk board, or maybe a chalk outline on asphalt. Either way, I really like it. I would probably pick it up if I saw it on a shelf somewhere. I think it's different from most other crime novel covers, so that's cool!