Death And The Chaste Apprentice by Robert Barnard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Having read several "serious" books in a row I think I have earned the right to some light entertainment. Here's yet another novel by Robert Barnard, "Death and the Chaste Apprentice" (1989), my eleventh work of his.
An annual music and theatre festival is held in Ketterick, a London suburb. The plot begins when the rehearsals for an Elizabethan play "The Chaste Apprentice of Bowe" and for subsequent opera performances begin at the Ketterick Arts Festival. The first 40 pages are really difficult to get through as there are too many characters, which makes the text hard to focus on. I almost never quit books before I finish them, but I have been tempted in this case. About one-third into the novel, there is a murder. The local superintendent Iain Dundy, helped by Charlie Peace from the Metropolitan CID, are on the case.
To me, the best parts of the novel are fascinating insights into the world of opera and Elizabethan theatre. Alas, one can find precious little of Mr. Barnard's trademark snide writing style, and there are very few sarcastic passages that have impressed me so much in several of his other novels. I burst out laughing only in three or four places. While the plot is serviceable, there is one twist too many at the end. No, it is not a bad book; it is just below the average for Mr. Barnard.
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