Love that, say I.
Shakespeare junkies will have mucho fun with this novel, the first in a projected series of Horatio Wilkes mysteries (Something Wicked is next in line ... huzzah!).
Something is rotten in Denmark, Tennessee, and it is not just the polluted Copenhagen River. Hamilton Prince's father has been murdered, according to a hidden video message. Horatio Wilkes, Hamilton's best friend, is visiting the Prince mansion when the video turns up. The guys need to find the killer before he strikes again.
But it won't be easy. Suspects are plentiful. Olivia Mendelssohn may be hot (and Hamilton's ex-girlfriend), but she's also an environmentalist determined to clean up the river that the Prince paper plant has been polluting for decades. Trudy, Hamilton's mom, has recently married her husband's brother, Claude, and signed over half of the plant and its profits to him. Not to mention Ford N. Branff, media mogul and Trudy's college flame, who wants to buy the plant for himself. The question is motive, and Horatio Wilkes is just the kind of guy who can find things like that out. Doesn't matter that he's only a junior in high school.
Giving Hamlet a modern setting really reminds you how strong Shakespeare's plots are, how he sustains high-pitch action throughout a tale. When you know a story well, it loses some of its reread potency, but Gratz twists things until readers see with fresh color.
All I have to say about Something Rotten is this is how Shakespeare should be introduced to the millions of high school freshmen in America. I mean, why shouldn't 14 year old boys despise the Bard when their first encounter involves such smarmy stuff as, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" Give them Something Rotten, then go to a live production of Hamlet, and then read the play.
Note: Yes, there is language, but all in all, it's what you'd expect from the cover. Something Wicked, on the other hand, from the excerpt I read, may not continue the "integrity" of its predecessor.