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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating twist on an old story
In The Marlowe Conspiracy, Scarsbrook draws us into Elizabethan England and the double life of Christopher Marlowe, or Kit. As a spy for his patron, Thomas Walsingham, Kit has given his allegiance to his country and his heart to the stage, in spite of recent jadedness over the limitations of his craft.

As far as conspiracies go, the standard formula goes...
Published on 3 Mar 2011 by Alice Y. Yeh

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WHY AMERICAN AUTHORS SHOULD NOT WRITE BOOKS ABOUT BRITISH HISTORY
Some of the incidents in this book made me laugh out loud, e.g. Marlowe and Shakespeare having a meal in a "restaurant on a ship" (the Golden Hinde no less!). Restaurants were not really introduced to the UK until the 18th/19th centuries, and floating restaurants did not come along until the 20th. If you wanted to eat outside of the home in the 16th/17th century, your...
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by Amazon Customer


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating twist on an old story, 3 Mar 2011
By 
Alice Y. Yeh (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In The Marlowe Conspiracy, Scarsbrook draws us into Elizabethan England and the double life of Christopher Marlowe, or Kit. As a spy for his patron, Thomas Walsingham, Kit has given his allegiance to his country and his heart to the stage, in spite of recent jadedness over the limitations of his craft.

As far as conspiracies go, the standard formula goes something like this: innocent hero finds himself in trouble; innocent hero runs away from trouble; hero and confederates uncover an increasingly messy plot; hero saves the day and lives to tell the tale. Scarsbrook turns this step-by-step process on its head, as the suspected plot is actually more intricate than the real one, and the truth behind the conspiracy is revealed to the reader right from the get-go. In spite of this foreknowledge, the storyline remains intriguing, with surprises and stressful situations that are wholly unexpected. Seemingly unimportant information becomes crucial in later scenes, forcing the reader to pay attention. Also, taking a larger view, parts of the tale coincide quite well with the real Marlowe's Hero and Leander.

The author paints Marlowe as a friendly man with a good sense of humor but a terrible temper. As a spy, he has both physical skill and mental resourcefulness, and both prove vital as the situation around him worsens. In spite of his pride and his occasional bouts of arrogance, he is a likable protagonist who makes you urge him to succeed while shaking your fist at the villainy of his enemies. In fact, Scarsbrook's renderings of both Marlowe and Walsingham are delightfully human, and the changes in their characters interesting to behold.

The tension between Audrey and Kit is fantastic, and their hesitancy and internal struggle are in keeping with such a conservative society. The love scene is a bit hard to swallow, however, given its setting and the nature of their relationship before. I can see the importance in terms of hardening Walsingham's attitude towards Kit. All the same, the insertion of the act itself feels a bit contrived.

Equally difficult to absorb is the start of the friendship between Kit and William Shakespeare. Once it is underway, it is believable enough, but the start of it feels rushed, lacking the instant chemistry that would account for such suddenness. Something about Will's deportment also had me picturing him as a teenager, and Marlowe as the experienced adult. This could be due to the forced growth curve of espionage; even so, it was hard to imagine that they are the same age.

Scarsbrook's writing is comfortable, and his pacing excellent as he varies quick fist fights with slower, ponderous segments. My chief complaint, however, is a fondness of apostrophes that borders on gluttony. Instances of "you're" instead of "your" aside, the manuscript is peppered with pluralized words or varying verbs that are given apostrophes for no reason that I can fathom. I lost count by the time that I was ten percent in, and the quality of the author's actual word usage and phrasing was the only thing tempering my vexation.

In The Marlowe Conspiracy, the author gives a colorful tale that cleverly coordinates fact and rumor with his own imaginings. The story could very well stand on its own, even without the historical tie-in, as a well-written piece of historical fiction. More proofreading would likely be beneficial, however, as would a less trigger-happy pinky.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fascinating, 3 Dec 2011
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Had this book, purely because it was about Christopher Marlowe, but what a surprise it was full of amazing facts and surprises.The story didn't really stop to gather breath, but just kept on surprising me with Marlowes escapades. One disturbing thing I gathered from my reading was just how much the religious authorities hated the very presence of Marlowe in England-very christian!
A fantastic book!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WHY AMERICAN AUTHORS SHOULD NOT WRITE BOOKS ABOUT BRITISH HISTORY, 16 Nov 2011
Some of the incidents in this book made me laugh out loud, e.g. Marlowe and Shakespeare having a meal in a "restaurant on a ship" (the Golden Hinde no less!). Restaurants were not really introduced to the UK until the 18th/19th centuries, and floating restaurants did not come along until the 20th. If you wanted to eat outside of the home in the 16th/17th century, your choice was limited to a local inn or tavern or a chop house. The book is poorly edited in that it is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Not very good at all.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Severe shortcomings, 9 April 2012
By 
Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Christopher Marlowe's alter ego as a government spy has inspired a variety of alternative explanations to the official account of his death in a tavern brawl. This novel sets out another, ingenious, scenario for the events at Deptford, revealed in the final pages. The problem is however. that up to this point in Scarsbrook's novel, it was difficult to work out just what Marlowe - and for a time, Will Shakespeare - are trying to achieve. We have an improbable excursion to Leasowe, Lord Derby's seat in the Wirral, very far off in travelling terms in those days,that merely establishes the fact that he was seriously ill; a number of clandestine visits to Scadbury, Walsingham's seat, and the royal palace at Nonsuch; and several episodes of violence, some based on fact, but others entirely fictional and extremely unlikely. I was left with the feeling that the book was simply marking time, putting its main characters through a series of 'action scenes' until the denouement at Deptford was reached. Also annoying were the rather too frequent anachronisms - rhodendendrons, cultivated in gardens, nearly two centuries too early; cranberries served as food a few decades before New England Indians introduced them to the Pilgrim Fathers, a 'restaurant' rather than a 'chophouse' - and one howler, bread 'roles' instead of 'rolls'.

If taken as a light-hearted romp, in which action is all, quite entertaining. If taken as a historical novel, it has many shortcomings.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The poor writing is very distracting, 7 May 2014
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It is hard to believe that this book was written by a professional author! Clearly he has completed some research to produce a credible plot, and at the end of the book explains some of the diversions from known or accepted facts. Unfortunately no effort has been put into correcting the many, many mistakes in the English. Some are hilarious ("flower girls sold bushels of lavender" [a bushel is a volume of dry goods equivalent to 8 gallons or 36 litres - can't get many of those in your flower basket!], "the chair... slammmed into a wall and fell dead to the floor", "the hymnbook... splashed to the floor", "itched by the faint-buzzing of flies", "their gold-tasseled shoes led the way") , others are inexcusable ("you're genius is staggering", "died blonde hair", "bread roles", "from the candelabra's surrounding her") and some are meaningless contradictions ("fake holy relics plundered from Jerusalem"). There are attempts to write dialogue in Elizabethan English ("Pray tell me which manner of thoughts bothers you now?"), but elsewhere modern americanisms are included. Scarsbrook is very fond of colons, but I don't think I found a single semi-colon. He also seems to have invented some words (bombilated, plaint). Despite the distractions, I did read the novel from cover to cover, I just wish Mr Scarsbrook had done the same before he published.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabethan Age novel featuring Christopher Marlowe, 3 Oct 2013
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The author has vividly brought to life the era of Queen Elizabeth1. Marlowe is presented in character with his writings and known historical events. The only weakness is that the author does not have a clear idea of geography. I don't think you could commute from Chislehurst to Whitehall in one hour in a horse drawn coach as it is 10 miles and the average speed of coaches was 5 miles per hour on Elizabethan roads. But it's still a cracking good read!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where to start.., 30 Dec 2011
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I'm sorry - I just had to write this to save anyone else wasting their money on what purports to be a historical 'novel', but is clearly just a Hollywood Blockbuster wannabe plot synopsis/script. Parts of this text (especially the various chases/secret passageway/search office scenes) just made me laugh out loud they were SO ridiculous. If you want to read Historical Fiction (especially Tudor)'novels', stick to the likes of Philipa Gregory or Alison Weir, and go see this when it comes out at the cinema!
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The Marlowe Conspiracy: A Novel
The Marlowe Conspiracy: A Novel by M. G. Scarsbrook (Paperback - 21 Nov 2010)
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