The Marlowe Papers: A Novel
By Ros Barber
(St. Martin’s Press, $25)

“What can a dead man say that you will hear?” begins The Marlowe Papers, an epic alternate history written entirely in iambic pentameter. When said dead man is mercurial Renaissance poet Christopher Marlowe, who never met a kiss or a brawl he could resist, and when his voice is provided by the magnetic wordsmithery of first-time novelist Ros Barber, the answer is: everything. With the screw-tightening verve of a great thriller and the romantic pull of Renaissance poetry, the novel — which purports that Marlowe is the true author of William Shakespeare’s legendary oeuvre — is a gripping, lyrical, most unlikely page-turner.