Shakespeare’s Revenge by John O’Shea

Shakespeare’s Revenge
John O’Shea
iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450239820
Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views (5/11)


I really, really, really liked this book. “Shakespeare’s Revenge” is an Elizabethan mystery with a modern, athletic hero no different from those cycling past my window right now. No Hollywood car chases or torture scenes, just realistic ones that could very well have been taken from TV new stories of the week. This fascinating murder story revolving around a search for the true identity of William Shakespeare will have readers parking themselves into a chair and refusing to put the book down.

Tanner Cook races professionally, but due to an injury he is reduced to using his bike as mere transportation. To pay the bills and look after his brother, he cleans up the estates, and looks for relatives, of those who die without a Will. After finding a hidden room filled with Shakespearean novels, Tanner realizes that there may be more to his present job than it first appears. Although spies, turncoats, and some violence do make an appearance, what I especially appreciated about this novel was its attempt to keep things grounded. The pacing is realistic, the character interactions and reactions normal, and unbelievable situations were kept to a minimum. Most of all, the background information on Shakespeare is incredible. I did not know about this area of Shakespearean studies, and the theories, explanations, and storyline regarding the writer’s true identity all ring so true that they are a credit to the author’s writing and respect for his audience. I want to know more about both the topic and author John O’Shea.

“Shakespeare’s Revenge” is for those who want something fresh and youthful. The mystery mingles with the daily life of the present day characters so cleverly that there is never a moment of thinking that the story is not real – except for, perhaps, one James Bond scene near the end. “Shakespeare’s Revenge” is great writing and a great story – everything that a great novel should have.

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