The Killing Of Hamlet

Evil Will Out

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
224 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

My lasting first impression as a first-time reader of the rather prolific writer Ann Morven, based on her “somewhere-in-the-series” novel, The Killing of Hamlet, one of a collection featuring a common-everyday-woman investigator named Sheil B. Wright (because she usually is), is Wow, what perfectly timed punches Ms. Morven delivers! She begins her stylish English mystery abruptly with a most sudden, instantly effective, very public murder (of Hamlet, no less), and thus a quirky and engaging plot hits the ground running. This is somewhat ironic, as Sheil B. Wright turns out to be a bit of an Australian plodder, herself. On the other hand, Ann Morven’s writing pace is fast, exciting, and … well … punchy! This makes for exhilarating entertainment oddly proffered with decorum. The precision wit is titillating; the voice is quite polite. A mystery fan rubs his hands together with delight.

If The Killing of Hamlet is indicative of Ann Morven’s typical creative production, she deserves a place of honor in the Mystery Writers Hall of Fame. Not because her plotting is overly complex, nor are her protagonist’s deductive skills equal to the world’s greats, but because her writing is so spot-on, perfectly concise, and the way she tells a story is simply so much fun. A sharply observant brain and super-clever wit are at work behind the deceptive directness of her writing. Mark my words, if you read too quickly, which is a hazardous temptation, you may likely stumble over several tiny, easily discarded humor-pebbles. And, as anyone who loves a really good mystery will quickly caution: Do not overlook anything (or anyone). Not those accumulating bodies, and most certainly not Sheil B. Wright. An absolute gem of a book; well written, entertaining, and impeccably edited.

Lucinda E Clarke

The Killing of Hamlet by Ann Morven is the recounting of a murder on stage in a small English village. The dreadful deed takes place on stage in full view of the audience, by an arrow shot by a speargun miles inland from the sea. Unfortunately, the narrator, an Australian ballad singer by the name of Sheil B. Wright – all the names throughout the book are a bit suspect – is seen in the window of the ladies’ toilet overlooking the stage immediately after the deed. Numerous characters have good reason to kill the actor playing Hamlet and several other local inhabitants for reasons of land development, bankruptcy, loss of business and maintaining the age-old dominance of the ruling family.

I enjoyed this book. It’s quirky, full of well-drawn characters and it kept me guessing. The Killing of Hamlet by Ann Morven reminded me of the Midsomer Murders series on British television in which the inhabitants of sleepy English villages are bumped off in bizarre ways. I wondered if this book had been adapted for one of the episodes of this popular program. The delightful characters range from Mr. Squint the policeman, Constable Bully, Guido Holler who ran the local paper - until he was ignominiously speared while on stage – and was universally hated due to his muckraking evidence, to the local lady of the manor and the cute cuddly granny who runs the local tea shop. This book has it all; the secret tunnel, the discovery of an unknown play by Shakespeare and maybe even his last remains buried in the village. Each chapter begins with a quote from the bard's plays or sonnets, and lots of misquotes by the characters make this a fun read for a day when it’s pouring with rain and you need a good laugh.

Peggy Jo Wipf

The Killing of Hamlet: Evil Will Out by Ann Morven is a compelling blend of humor, suspense, and murder, with characters that each have a reason for murder except the suspect. Sheil B. Wright is contracted to sing and play at the English village of Maggots Wallop in celebration of a newly discovered Shakespeare play. By sheer bad luck, Sheil was seen at the scene of the crime; being an outsider, she is instantly the accused as the murderer. Her skills in apprehending other criminals do not impress this high-tech sheriff who believes technology always supersedes. She finds she must interfere when another murder is blamed on her. But will the killer take her out before they are captured?
Pride runs high in this quaint village that rumors say is the place of Shakespeare's youth. The Killing of Hamlet begins with the killing of the actor playing Hamlet who has the dirt on many of the villagers. This character not only knows everyone's secrets, but he is also the editor of the local paper. Ann Morven again uses her fictitious character of Sheil B. Wright to solve his murder. Sheil B. Wright is getting quite the reputation for being a sleuth while putting herself in harm's way. The author's play on words, puns, and distinct writing skills generate interest and comedy throughout the whole story. I loved how the author creates unique characters that are well-developed. The mystery of the real killer was well hidden within the plot that ends the story in an intriguing fashion. I thoroughly enjoyed this murder thriller with its unexpected twists and dramatic events; an enticing read.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Her name is Sheil B. Wright, as in she’ll be right. It’s an Australian expression that expresses the belief that whatever is wrong will right itself in time. Yes, her parents named her that. And, yes she’s Aussie. But she’s in England on a Shakespeare gig, not of her own choice but one set up by her agent. She would rather be booked as a folk singer than as part of the cast for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And she’s found herself once again apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time. That means Sheil B. Wright was standing in the very window from whence came the deadly arrow that killed Hamlet (for real) on stage. And the audience wants blood – hers. The police are not totally convinced she did it, but she has to wear an ankle bracelet anyway and she has to hand over her passport. There’s no escaping the fact that Sheil B. Wright is the prime suspect and the only way she’ll get away is if she can find the real killer and prove her innocence, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Ann Morven’s mystery novel, The Killing of Hamlet: Evil Will Out, is a clever twist of a plot that parallels the famous Shakespearean play with the antics of a twenty-first century Aussie folk singer and amateur sleuth. Sheil B. Wright makes a believable and loveable protagonist with a mix of Aussie wit and a whole lot of good sense thrown into the mix. The plot thickens with great fanfare, like a stage production, drawing the audience into its fold with ease. A really fun read.

Lit Amri

"Hamlet lay flat, his back pressing the boards, his brow pierced by an arrow. Two warriors stood like shocked statues, while the Queen of Scotland, agonised by this real drama, had found accusing confidence. She was pointing up at my window. I must have appeared there, heavily framed, a split second after everybody lifted their eyes, tracing the Queen’s pointed forefinger. What they saw was me." In The Killing of Hamlet by Ann Morven, folk singer Sheil B. Wright witnesses a real murder on stage during the premiere of a newly discovered Shakespeare play and unfortunately becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her name, Sheil tries to find the real murderer, while experts squabble over the authenticity of the Shakespeare manuscript. Will Sheil succeed or will she become the next victim?

Even though my knowledge of Shakespeare's works is minimal, Ann Morven's The Killing of Hamlet is inclusive, churning and quoting the Bard's plays charmingly. The characters are entertaining and memorable with funny names that effortlessly give them suitable attributes. Whether Sheil is unlucky to be unwillingly involved in a murder or lucky to have the knack to solve one through happenstance, the 39-year-old chubby singer is a delightful protagonist to root for. With a streamlined and well-paced plot, Morven gives meaty motives for all the suspects-no doubt whodunit enthusiasts will have fun trying to figure out the 'one', pondering on the clues while trying not to be blindsided by clever red herrings. Funny and highly engaging. I look forward to reading another Sheil B. Wright's cozy mystery sleuth tales.