The Shakespeare Curse

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 February, 2010, 12:00am

The Shakespeare Curse
by J.L. Carrell
Harper, HK$94

J.L. Carrell scored a hit with The Shakespeare Secret, a winning combination of serial killing, conspiracy thriller and, well, Shakespeare. Having sold more than 250,000 copies, Carrell knows a winning formula when she banks one, and has followed up with The Shakespeare Curse. Sounds familiar? Or should that be sound and fury familiar? Luckily, the sequel is an enjoyable romp through unoriginal territory. Kate Stanley, the clever and creative heroine of The Shakespeare Secret, returns. Clearly, one brush with death was not enough. This is not the only drain on my sympathy. Tempting fate once is a misfortune; tempting fate again by directing Macbeth, that most infamous of Shakespeare's plays, is positively careless. To choose Scotland is suicidal. Kate hardly has time to say 'tomorrow' - let alone 'Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day' - before weird objects appear at rehearsals and a dead body is found, seemingly the victim of an ancient ritual. When ransom notes are received for a boy, it falls to Kate to decode the messages, which seem connected with a murderous Scottish king. The Shakespeare Curse is not Bard, not Bard at all.