When Brian Bennett, Group Commissioning Editor of the Rutherford Echo invites DCI Steve Winwood as his ‘plus one’ to the VIP opening of the Shed Community Theatre Steve fears the worst. He is not wrong.
But it is Brian who finds a dead body in the gents toilet apparently having slipped or been deliberately pushed, and cracked his skull on the urinal. The body is identified by two of his university colleagues Professor Daish-Cook and Professor Rufus Cornwallis as Lucien Wadsworth, an English lecturer at Rutherford University, commonly known as Mungo Jerry.
From then on Steve finds himself drawn deeper into an imaginary ‘what-if’ literary mystery and the world of theatre with which he has a deep mistrust.
Wadsworth had discovered a seventeenth century manuscript about a year earlier now believed to be a lost work of the sixteenth century dramatist Christopher Marlowe who was believed to have been killed about thirty years earlier than the manuscript is dated.
What if the manuscript is genuine, what if it really is the work of Marlowe and did he really escape England and prosecution in 1593? What if he really had written this undiscovered work on the life and persecution of the astronomer Galileo Galilei whilst in exile and how did it get to England?
These questions surround Steve’s investigations that take in the Redbourne Brewery, the Rutherford International Newspaper Group, their PR company and the University – all of which are more concerned with The Shed rather than a four hundred year old manuscript that has surfaced in a small, English market town. On the other hand they are all aware of its existence.
Things get muddled when it is revealed that Wadsworth has worked in several universities under different names and given other untraceable academics as references for jobs. His real identity remains a mystery. What concerns Steve is how the manuscript came to be found in a modern university. His investigations are inconclusive as to whether Wadsworth’s death was accidental or murder and if the latter, why?
Steve needs the help of his own personal network such as the vicar and the local antiquarian bookshop owner and certainly his Sergeant Miles Davis to understand the secrets behind the wall of silence being put up by all those involved in The Shed project. Daish-Cook and Cornwallis admit that both Wadsworth and themselves have been the targets of low level on-line threats to destroy or dismiss the now named Marlowe Papers. It takes some inspired detective work by Davis to point the finger at a hitherto unknown participant in this literary puzzle.
This is the latest volume in the Winwood Murder Mysteries.
208 pages at US2.99 or £1.99
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