Philip Gooden's sixth "Shakespearean Murder Mystery Featuring Nick Revill," appears to be the best crafted yet of this series. In "An Honorable Murderer," Gooden uses his knowledge of Shakespeare (and the time) to present another very-readable historical adventure.
Nick Revill, a young player with the King's Men, Shakespeare's theatre company, finds himself once more embroiled in a complicated situation, involving murder, mayhem, and mystery. It is now 1604 and the new king (James I) is on the throne. There is a distinctive change in atmosphere and political posturing. After decades of rule by Elizabeth I (most citizens knowing no other monarch), the power chain is shifting. The war with Spain is over and a lasting peace is on the horizon. A peace settlement ceremony is the foundation of the story. Gooden cleverly and adroitly weaves the various aspects of post-Elizabethan (now Jacobean) society into his story, but, of course, the foundation for the book is murder. And soon as Nick finds out, it's more than one death.
"For sure, these two deaths were connected," he surmises as he surveys the aftermath. "One was murder intended to look like an accident, while the other was murder plain and simple." He adds that he has "a conviction because I was as sure as anyone could be without any evidence or logic to support the idea that the deaths...were all linked."
Thus, with all the convolutions of an intricate puzzle, "An Honorable Murder" proceeds to its conclusion. Nick is able to rely upon his friend Abel Glaze and periodically, for emphasis, William Shakespeare himself (although the author deftly does not let the Bard overshadow either the story or Nick himself). Nick seems to be maturing gracefully (he's still quite young) as Gooden continues to develop his characters and even his plots.
Each of the Revill stories has a Shakespearean play as the basis for the story. In "An Honorable Murderer" he utilizes "Othello." The similarities of the story and elements of the original play make for interesting reading, although readers need not have a Shakespearean background in order to enjoy the story. Complexities of "Othello" do enter the stage periodically, and with lots of side plots and "extras."
Gooden, however, isn't pedantic in this series as he creates his stories with the idea that background knowledge isn't the key to the narrative, although, of course, it helps. The historical "elements" may or may not be exacting (after all, this is fiction), but that doesn't stand in the way of a very good, and very exciting, read.