Joe Roper, a graduate student from Northeastern University, made a deathbed promise to Rachel Goscimer to continue her life work of finding facts on the lost years of William Shakespeare, and now he has been handed the Kellogg Collection of Elizabethan books, letters, and manuscripts to authenticate. His friend Mary Catherine, who had been helping him find that most parts of the collection were forgeries, has just decided to go into an English convent. The poor boy, disappointed in love and frustrated by his research, stumbles upon Posy Gould, a sexy, colorful Harvard graduate who has studied Shakespeare extensively while researching Sir William Cecil. Posy thinks one of the letters in the Kellogg collection is an authentic Shakespeare letter, so she and Joe go to London to study works in the British Library that may shed light on whether the letter is real.
Posy and Joe debate the age-old question of whether Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him, giving line by line comparisons of his poetry and that of others. Posy’s “Valley Girl”-style of speech and Joe’s Vermont backwater vernacular seem misplaced and detract from the characters’ believability as English majors.
The minutiae of the research may interest English history buffs or people looking for more cerebral substance than usual in their mysteries. For anyone lacking a profound interest in historical and literary details, however, the book may prove tedious. The author is a scholar who backs up the Shakespeare details on the web site http://www.chasingshakespeares.com, so readers who want to discern the fiction from the fact may look there.