Scoop of the e-e-evening: Something Rotten

"Pulp Shakespeare," says Mr. Gratz.

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh very intesting. I'm glad you liked you. I hope he pulls "Something Wicked" out for you.

I know if you like this it's got to be good.

I've never actually read any shakespeare--it makes me so jealous when I read your novel and I see how darned well-educated you are.

I have seen a Romeo and Juliet movie. Does that count for anything?

Now when are they making a War and Peace movie?

heh heh

Anonymous said...

Well, I didn't mean INTESTING exactly. =0)

Marie DeVries said...

I agree with your philosophy, more kids would like Shakespeare if they learned it in a different order. sometimes schools and the way they work confuse me

Noel De Vries said...

Sally. Dear, dear Sally. Do me a favor. Rent Twelfth Night. (Toby Stevens, Imogen Stubbs) Watch Twelfth Night. Then rent Taming of the Shrew. (Elizabeth Taylor). Watch Taming of the Shrew. Repeat.

(I'm an insufferable proponant of seeing the plays over reading them, for first timers ... I mean, hello! They're PLAYS!)

And you have two options for War and Peace ... Audrey Hepburn version, with Henry Fonda doing excruciating pronunciations, or the 6-disc BBC version, which I've not yet braved.

Something Rotten is good, even if you haven't read/seen Hamlet, but esp. if you have. I mean, it's not classic lit by a long shot, but certainly good fun.

Anonymous said...

OK I'm making a note to myself.

Not for War and Peace. I don't think I can go there yet. But I'l try Twelfth Night and Taming of the Shrew.

Delaney said...

Oh, that sounds like so much ... can I say fun? I'd like to read it someday. I'm kind of on a Shakespeare-kick right now.