This is the third book in a trilogy that began with “The Shakespeare Stealer” and continued with “Shakespeare’s Scribe.” American author Gary Blackwood has done a terrific job recreating the world of Shakespeare’s London and his theater company. Widge is a young apprentice actor sent to steal the playwright’s “Hamlet” in the first book, but who ends up becoming Shakespeare’s friend and joins his company playing female roles, as was the custom then. In Scribe, the company is on the road and encountering many problems while Widge transcribes Shakespeare’s work for him and also finds a possible father, something he never expected. In this third book, someone is stealing Shakespeare’s plays again, and Widge comes under suspicion. Despite the good will of his friends in the company, Widge is let go and decides he must join the company of the man who has been stealing the plays to see if he can find out more.
Other subplots abound, including a deadly walk across the frozen Thames, the presence of a forbidden Catholic priest in the company, the impending death of their patron, Queen Elizabeth, and the rescue of Widge’s friend in France. It all seems well researched and believable, from the language to the customs and atmosphere. I recommend all three books, links below.