Mystery Author: Strong Women, Great Stories

Shakespeare's Blood

Mercedes Maxwell is thrilled when she gets the chance to go to Britain in the company of her elderly neighbor, but when the old woman is murdered, Mercedes is pulled into a vortex of violence as confusing as it is frightening. 
Other murders follow, and Mercedes realizes the deaths are related to an old journal found in a castle they visited. Suspected of being the killer, Mercedes goes off on her own to clear her name. 
She finds help along the way, but can she be sure of the helpers' motives, or are they after the same thing the killer is? Somewhere in Scotland there's a hoard of Spanish treasure and the answers to a puzzle about William Shakespeare that explain many questions surrounding his life. Can Mercedes unravel the clues to Shakespeare's blood before the killer catches up with her and lights her way to "dusty death"?

Discussion Questions for Shakespeare's Blood:
1. The story's first murder relates to Romeo & Juliet, probably the most familiar of Shakespeare's plays for most. The woman is stabbed by what Vincent (and Shakespeare) term a "happy" dagger. How do you think that word relates to the weapon in both the play and the book?

2. Mercedes is inexperienced in a lot of ways. If she'd been older and/or wiser, how might she have avoided much of her trouble?

3. This book has similarities to The DaVinci Code: long-buried secrets, clues to the past, and a suspenseful chase for reasons not completely understood until the end. Which clues did you find most interesting?

4. Like many heroic characters, Mercedes collects "helpers" along her way. Who is your favorite helper, and why?

5. Colm is at first a suspicious character. At what point did you decide he really is a good guy?

6. One of the most entertaining characters to write was Lonnie. How does your impression of him change over time?

7. Vincent is without doubt an evil person, but can you imagine how an attorney would have defended him, had he come to trial?

8. The murders in the story are fairly grisly, since the methods used come from Shakespeare's plays. Do you think they fit in modern writing, or would you have preferred less specific violence?

9. While the idea of John Shakespeare is the author's fabrication, the details given in the story as to what we know of William Shakespeare are true. What theories of the Bard do you subscribe to: e.g. written by him, written by someone else, written by committee, etc.


10. In the second Mercedes mystery, Charlie Dickens' Documents, some of the same characters appear. Who from this book would you like to "meet" again?
 

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