This review was written for a family book club that has gone really far...what I mean to express is that so far not everyone has read the first book. There are spoilers in this review so if 'Interred with Their Bones' is already sitting on your bedside table, you probably need to skip this article.
Of course this book is in the same genre of 'The Da Vinci Code' and the 'National Treasure' movies which would lead one to think it might be a bit more exciting than the average mystery/who done it, sadly that's not the case. It was all plot and no interesting characters. I found nothing endearing about any of them except for the fact that the main character, Kate, apparently didn't know her mentor/mother figure very well (as in she didn't even know the woman had/or didn't have a nephew?). I mean...okay...professor types who get their rocks off on Shakespeare I'll accept, but no discussion on family ever, even when digging through dusty reference books in ancient libraries...really?...no one ever asks, "Hey what are you doing for the holidays?" "Well, I'm going to spend all my time ignoring relatives I never talk about."
I really thought the complaints that this book was primarily written with the idea of a movie deal would be blown out of proportion - I was wrong. I think Jennifer Lee Carrell wrote the part of Sir Henry hoping Ian McKellen would basically reprise his 'Da Vinci' role of Sir Leigh Teabing because they are the same character except written by two different authors and appearing in two different tales. Oh, and get this, she even makes a Knights of the Templar joke as in, and I paraphrase, "not another Templar riddle." Hell, if that wasn't enough, on page 237 Carrell makes reference to Steven Spielberg in a vague summary of his Shakespearian bent, "an epic adventurer through ever major genre of narrative drama." The only thing the author leaves out is the obligatory Oprah reference. Girl, if you want to make it as an Oprah Book Club pick you have to suck it up and put Miss O somewhere in your tome.
Maybe it is me, of which I am the first to admit that my 'Star Trek' Mensa party e-vite was lost somewhere on the technological highway, but I didn't connect the dots about the priest who died in New Mexico. I mean, I got the whole 'Don Quixote' bit and the translation, but I didn't get if he was Shakespeare's son?...lover?...brother?...daughter? Also, and yes I might be nitpicking, but if we are to assume his death had something to do with unruly Native Americans then who built the tomb in the cave? Carrell made mention of what sounded like a marble mausoleum structure in said cave. How does one sell that to the stone carver from Seville to cross an ocean and most of a continent to create a crypt honoring a native Englishman amongst an aborigine population known for gorging out eyes and cutting off balls and then leaving their victims to crawl around the desert? I don't care how motivated someone says they are, no one should be that motivated.
Getting back to the non-descript characters, what I found a bit disconcerting was that this book was authored by a woman. Usually I find women writers better at defining characteristics of their characters even if they are stereotypes such as in the chick lit stories where the heroine works for some fashion mag while itching for her chance to prove she is more than a pretty face. I'm not asking for Carrell to make her character blonde, blue-eyed, and model thin, I'm asking for her to give a lifeline to her readers for reasons we should care if Kate gets out of the cave alive besides the fact that she is holding a lost Shakespeare play. Constructing her as an adult orphan doesn't count. By injecting some personality into her players it makes tracking the plot, which takes place in several locations, more palatable.
The only character that I wanted to know more about was the Native American Shakespeare professor in Utah (I forgot her name and I'm too lazy to thumb through the pages to look it up). Of course she ends up dead but if Carrell had made her the main character I think the book would have made for a much more interesting read.
The things I liked about 'Interred', see I'm not a total bitch, was that it made me more interested in the history of the Bard - perhaps not in reading a non-fiction book about him or his plays, but looking him up on Wikipedia. Although I know there has been much debate about just who was Shakespeare, I liked the idea that he may have had many fathers and one mother. I also thought the King James Bible references were a nice touch - I also have to admit that when I have heard the James Bible read aloud I have often thought Shakespeare had a hand in it (just another random thought that tossed around in my head).
Here are some questions I would like to pose to my fellow book clubbers. One, did you like the book? Two, Carrell is writing a sequel to 'Interred' would you read it? It sounds like an interesting topic, scary things that surround the play Macbeth, but for me Carrell's writing is such that I don't find I want to revisit it. Kind of like John Grisham - lawyers and chase scenes blah, blah, blah. Unless there is nothing else to read Grisham novels will do in a pinch.
Westerfield © 2009