Title: The Vagabond Clown ***SIGNED***
Publisher: St. Martin's/Minotaur, NY
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author on Full Title Page
Edition: 1st. Edition, 1st. Printing.
First Edition, First Printing with full number line. Signed, without inscription, by author on the FULL title page. Unread Fine book in Fine dust jacket. NO remainder mark, NO previous owner markings or inscriptions, NOT price clipped, NOT a Book Club Edition, NOT an Ex-Lib. Dust jacket covered in Mylar wrapper. All our books are bubble wrapped and shipped in a sturdy box. Bookseller Inventory # 010813
Synopsis: When unexpected disaster strikes Lord Westfield's Men during a packed performance, Nicholas Bracewell, the theater company's stage manager and all around performer of miracles, must save the day once again. A melee caused by disguised men is brought under control, but before the troupe can lament their destroyed set Nick discovers a body in the stands with a knife sticking out of it's back. They soon realize they are out one theater and one clown: Barnaby Gill, always hilarious on the stage and hopelessly curmudgeonly off, has broken his leg.
With long months of repairs before them, Westfield's Men embark on a tour of the Kent countryside in order to salvage some of the down time. They hire a stand-in for Gill, one Gideon Mussett, a gifted comedian and an even more gifted drunk. It seems no clown is perfect; while Gill has never been a barrel of laughs when not in front of an audience, Musset simply doesn't seem to know when to quit being funny.
Their major wound bandaged, no matter how temporarily, Nick and the troupe are hoping to leave their troubles behind. But misfortune follows them at every turn, and the company finds that no matter what they do or where they go someone very sinister is just moments behind. It's up to Nick Bracewell to find out what's going on, and exactly how it ties in to their wayward comedian. Will the Vagabond Clown prophecy the end of Westfield's Men, and perhaps the demise of Nick himself? Longtime readers of mystery master Edward Marston will line up to find out in this suspenseful entry in a series that never disappoints.
Review: "This was no random act of malice," proclaims stage manager Nicholas Bracewell, after an audience brawl disrupts the latest comedic performance by Westfield's Men, in Edward Marston's The Vagabond Clown. If there was any doubt of design behind this affray, it's quickly dispelled by the discovery of a dead spectator in the gallery, Fortunates Hope--stabbed in the back. So who wielded the dagger, and why? Bracewell and the other members of his troupe haven't the time to find out, before they are ousted from their usual stage in Elizabethan London and forced to take to the road for their income, beginning a tour of the Kent countryside that will bring them even more trouble than they could typically find in the English capital.
Misfortune is guaranteed when--needing a clown to stand-in for the querulous Barnaby Gill, whose leg was broken during the riot--the company hires his hated but gifted rival, Gideon Mussett. Aware of Mussett's reputation for "drunkenness and truculence," Bracewell wrests from him a pledge to behave. However, this proxy jester proves difficult to handle from the outset, and only becomes more so as his performances gain Westfield's Men acclaim. Among his supposed infractions are several prankish attacks on the injured Gill, who has insisted on traveling with Westfield's Men in order to ensure that Mussett won't try usurping his position. But Bracewell thinks fault for his company's recent adversities may lie, instead, with another, less successful band of thespians who are also traveling through the area, and whose patron knew the murdered Hope. He's convinced of their culpability after Westfield's Men are ambushed on the open road, Gill is threatened with drowning, and Giddy Mussett is assaulted in a stable. Somebody, it appears, is determined to bring the curtain down on Bracewell's band, once and for all.
The Nicholas Bracewell novels (of which The Vagabond Clown is the 13th) offer a fulfilling blend of hilarity and heart, romance and mystery. And Marston's flair for capturing both the upright and ribald elements of his Elizabethan setting is to be envied. If there's any disappointment in these pages, it's that a late scene involving a sea chase never achieves the swashbuckling excitement it promises. --J. Kingston Pierce
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