Reviews of Looking for Cardenio
April 26, 2008
Tenure is the sacred door to security and acceptance in the university world, and Dr. Deidre Gunn, English lecturer at Melrose University, east of Toronto, has lost it.
An indiscretion with a student was the cause. A lecturer without tenure is a future in question, and Hamilton author Jean Rae Baxter places a carrot too tempting to pass by for an unemployed academic.
Cardenio -- Shakespeare's last play? No print copy remains, the last performance of it was in 1613, and then it vanished, taking its place among the rumours that swirl about Shakespeare to this day.
A seedy colleague from Gunn's past appears with a proposal: a yellowed manuscript of Cardenio written in the obsolete Secretary hand. Is it genuine?
It would kick-start her career -- no question. Can the finder be trusted? He is found dead soon after, Gunn being among the last seen leaving his
Baxter sets a plot that skilfully integrates frailty, sex and greed -- conditions that affect so much of life. She's a polished storyteller and writes with precision and good timing. She has a good ear for dialogue, relationships that develop within the twists and revelations of plot and descriptions that summon the reader into the action.
Looking for Cardenio is a novel that does its job with flair. Hamilton has a talented and successful mystery writer in its midst.
Reviewer: Don Graves