Nicholas Bracewell is set to save Lord Westfield's Men. Again. For the 16th time. In "The Princess of Denmark," Edward Marston's continuation of this series set in Elizabsethan England, we find a continuation of the same issues, problems, love interests, and stilted dialogue that the entire series contains. Nothing is new. Except that this time the adventures are set mostly in Denmark, Elsinore Castle (sound familiar?).
As we have it, the Queen's Head, home of Westfield's Men, the best theatrical company in all England, has been partially burned, dashing (once more) to the ground all hopes of our Men's continued profession. Woe is we! Whatever shall we do?
At the same time, the group's patron, Lord Westfield himself, has issued a proposal of marriage to a young lady in Denmark, the marriage arranged through an intermediary, and, once again, stepped in to help his company. They'll accompany him to Elsinore and perform there for his hosts and the king.
As this is a murder mystery, we need a body. Did we mention that a young theatre goer was burned to death in the Queen's Head fire? Thus, the fire sets in motion the series of dastardly deeds.
The crew boards a vessel for Denmark and on the way they encounter, in true--but quick--swashbuckling style, they dispense of the pirates (with Nick leading the way) and soon land at their destination. Alas, things are not what they seem. The intermediary to this marriage is found murdered (another body!) and the action speeds up. Nick is ever ready to come to the rescue again. As if to echo Macbeth's resounding lines, "double double toil and trouble" and "false face must hide false heart," Marston marches us on to a quick conclusion. The marriage ramifications and conditions are resolved, the murders are resolved, and the company is soon returned to England,where the last vestiges of this murder mystery are cleared up.
Still, despite a very tried and true formula, this series by Marston is delightful (if not fully predictable) to read. One wishes, though, that the author would find other conflicts beside the now tiresome ones (the Queen's Head owner continuously tossing them out of his premises, Barnaby Gill's same old tire arguments, the same old Lawrence Firethorne, great actor that he is. Enough is enough. There are many, many more options Marston has to take the development of this series and of his characters to other, even more exciting, adventures.