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Wednesday, 1 March 2023

‘Witch Hammer’ by M J Trow

Published by Crème de la Crime,
28 June 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-78029-029-4

This 3rd outing for Christopher Marlowe as detective is set in 1585. Young Christopher Marlowe abandons his studies in Cambridge to join Lord Strange’s men, travelling players. The language is suitably Elizabethan - coarse on occasion but always vivid and redolent of the language of Elizabethan playwrights. All the ingredients of a good historical mystery are here with real characters like Lord Strange, William Shakespeare and Edward Alleyn appearing - sometimes in surprising attitudes.

As the title suggests the questions of witchcraft is central and some sections of the book are magnificently macabre. For me the witchcraft is too weird. The strong style of the book some readers may find overwhelmingly harsh. For other readers the clashing Tudors may well be excitingly evoked by this tale.

En route to perform at Oxford, the players are rehearsing amongst the famous Rollright Stones on the Warwickshire border when the body of actor-manager Ned Sledd is discovered. Is this an act of witchcraft, maybe a human sacrifice to mark the festival of Lammastide? Or is there something more personal involved? Kit Marlowe determines to find out.

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer

M J Trow was born 1949 in Rhonda, South Wales. He is a full-time teacher of history who has been doubling as a crime writer for many years. His interests include collecting militaria, film, the supernatural and true crime. He now lives on the Isle of Wight. 


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