I don't often write here about new mysteries, but I thought this one worth pointing out: Severn House Publishers, which publishes a number of very good books in many different genres, has started offering some of their historical crime fiction as e-books. The publishers were kind enough to send me an electronic version of a recently-published mystery by the British writer M. J. Trow called "Dark Entry." Set in the English university city of Cambridge in the late sixteenth century, it features the amateur detective work of Christopher ("Kit") Marlowe, one of the great Elizabethan dramatists, a contemporary of Shakespeare.
But this isn't about Marlowe's dramas - it's a multiple-murder mystery, featuring a yung Kit Marlowe as detective. It begins with Marlowe, who, with his friends, is about to receive his degree from Cambridge, suddenly discovering the body of one of his closest friends. The coroner's jury rules the death a suicide, but Marlowe is convinced his friend was murdered. He is supported in his beliefs by his mentor, a Justice of the Peace named Sir Roger Manwood, as well as by a man well-versed in both poison and magic, Dr. John Dee, an influential adviser to Queen Elizabeth. (I should note that these are all real historical figures, although these events, of course, are fictional.)
As more deaths occur, Marlowe becomes convinced that they are all inter-related in some kind of plot, and it is up to him to figure out what has really happened and who is responsible for the killings, which he does, rather effectively.
Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book come in the descriptions of everyday life at Cambridge, including the historic and often violent conflicts between "town" and "gown" - the residents of the city and the students and professors at the university. While the early parts of the story move fairly slowly, there are some very nicely done sequences, including a riot involving a troupe of itinerant actors, and scenes including the climactic chase and confrontation between Kit Marlowe and the murderer. I find less convincing some of the scenes involving "magic" (including one that may cross the line to "paranormal"). All the same, "Dark Entry" is meant to be the first in a new series of books from a veteran author, and we will be seeing more of Kit Marlowe outside his historic role in English literature.
"Dark Entry," originally published in paper last year, is now available in e-book format, as are a large number of other historical mysteries from Severn House. If you like playing "what if" with historical figures, these books are likely to provide you with plenty of opportunities.