Nicholas Bracewell, the book holder and stage manager for the popular London theater troupe Westfield's Men, has a few problems on his hands. Edmund Hoode, the troupe's talented playwright, has fallen ill and is unable to complete his next opus. But is his illness from natural causes or is something more sinister afoot? An absentee landlord seems to have coincided with a few unusual events at the inn the troupe calls home. A gambler has moved in upstairs and proceeds to take money off many of the actors, something the regular landlord would never have allowed to happen. The troupe's costumes are purloined from a locked storage cabinet and they are forced to perform with makeshift clothing.
When Nicholas meets a couple of down on their luck young people who are making their living as con artists on the streets of London, helping them is almost too much for poor Nick. But he's got a good heart and an inquisitive mind, and as usual he'll stop at nothing before he gets everything under control. After all, the show must go on in Edward Marston's delightful fan-favorite, Edgar-nominated series.
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Things actually seem to be looking up for that chronically tormented Elizabethan theater company known as Westfield's Men. As the curtain rises on Edward Marston's exuberant The Counterfeit Crank, the cast has welcomed into their midst an oddly secretive but nonetheless talented new playwright, who brings with him a rousing historical drama, Caesar's Fall. Meanwhile, Alexander Marwood, the gloomy, henpecked landlord of the Queen's Head, that London inn where Westfield's Men are begrudgingly permitted to perform, has gone to visit his ailing brother (whom he hopes will remember him in his will), leaving the hostelry in the care of a more appreciative and exuberant manager. "Fortune has smiled on us at last," exults Westfield's veteran dramatist, Edmund Hoode.
Ah, but those words have hardly been uttered before a plague of gambling debts spreads among the actors--the result of their engagement with beguiling card sharp Philomen Lavery--and Hoode's health declines precipitously, dashing any chance of his completing a promised lithesome comedy. Adding insult to injury, the troupe's costumes are pilfered and its ticket proceeds pinched. Though Nicholas Bracewell, Westfield's book holder and necessarily practiced troubleshooter, hopes to rout all these woes, he's over-stretched, having also volunteered to aid a fetching, naïve young con artist who has survived abduction by the lecherous operators of a workhouse for the poor, but whose Welsh boyfriend has now gone missing. Deceived by people he saw as friends, and pursued by some of the very malefactors he aims to vanquish, Bracewell must marshal his considerable skills--both as a detective and a thespian--to save his livelihood, not to mention his own life.
British fictionist Marston has created other historical series in recent years, including those about a pair of 11th-century "Domesday" researchers (introduced in The Wolves of Savernake) and about 1850s London Inspector Robert Colbeck (who debuted in The Railway Detective). Yet he owes his popularity most to the Bracewell books, of which The Counterfeit Crank is the 14th (after 2003's The Vagabond Clown). While this novel offers a couple plot twists that are obvious from the outset, and more than one secondary character lacks the nuances essential to believability, there's no sign that Marston's regular cadre of 16th-century entertainers--each more egotistical or eccentric than the last--has been wrung dry of the possibilities for humor and hardship. --J. Kingston PierceFrom the Inside Flap:
"Expert...[Marston] keeps introspection to a minimum, letting his imagination run when envisioning the period, which he does in high style, from intrigue at Court to events on stage, to the taprooms of London."
- Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A fun, easygoing summer's day read."
- Kirkus Reviews
"A deliciously saucy Elizabethan romp guaranteed to delight both historical mystery buffs and fans of the enormously popular film Shakespeare in Love."
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Descripción Minotaur Books, 2004. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0312319495
Descripción St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2004. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. First Edition, First Printing. Nice, unsold, unread first edition, first printing of this Nicholas Bracewell Elizabethan theater mystery. Nº de ref. de la librería 004314
Descripción Minotaur Books, St. Martin's, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2004. Soft cover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. 1st Edition. RARE Advance Reading Copy-Uncorrected Proofs-Not For Sale. 1st Edition-Stated. 1st Printing-Ful # Line. New copy. Never read. Trade paperback format. Top back corner left-cover has a small crease. Some of the pages have the same tiny crease. Still a beautiful copy. COLLECTOR'S COPY. Nº de ref. de la librería 002035
Descripción Minotaur Books, 2004. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110312319495
Descripción Minotaur Books. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0312319495 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW7.1023322