Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh

Amazon Synopsis: London, 1593. A city on edge. Under threat from plague and war, strangers are unwelcome, suspicion is wholesale, severed heads grin from the spikes on Tower Bridge. Playwright, poet and spy, Christopher Marlowe walks the city's mean streets with just three days to find the murderous Tamburlaine, a killer escaped from the pages of his most violent play. Tamburlaine Must Die is the searing adventure of a man who dares to defy both God and the state and whose murder remains a taunting mystery to the present day. Written in diary form, this story follows Christopher Marlowe in his last couple of weeks of life before he is stabbed to death (it's not a spoiler, it is history). It begins with him being brought before the privy council of the Queen, Elizabeth I. Here he is accused of writing a pamphlet because the writer uses the pen name Tamburlaine, like in Marlowe's play.
The set up for this plot was great. There was dark undertones which were teeming with conspiracy and it gave a look into the life of a London playwright. As the story progressed I became more ravelled in a world of mystery and was craving for the identity of Tambulaine. Unfortunately this does not last and soon story strays from what I thought was going to be the plot.

Welsh has also attempted to make the language as close to Elizabethan as it can be, which is something that does not appeal to me at all. It meant that the dialogue and voice did not sound realistic or fluid at all.

The characterisation of Marlowe contributed to this awkward and stiff atmosphere. He did not seem like the witty, charasmatic man I expected him to be and often laughed at his own jokes which weren't really jokes but irony that only he knew about. He seemed quite alienated and since the real Marlowe supposedly went on a renaissance version of a pub crawl the night of his death it seems unlikely that Welsh's character is a true representation. I could live with this though because I understand what creative licence is.

What ruined this book for me was that the copy I have is only 140 pages long meaning I was left unsatisfied by the ending. It was too open. I came out of it without much more knowledge than what I started with, which makes it a less enjoyable reading experience. Had Welsh not left so many narrative gaps I am sure I would have enjoyed it much more 

Rating: 3/5 because it lost the grip on the dark and suspenseful novel it could have been.


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