The Shakespeare Conspiracy

A Clayton Lovell Stone Adventure (Clayton Lovell Stone Adventures) (Volume 1)

Fiction - Thriller - General
388 Pages
Reviewed on 10/16/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Shakespeare Conspiracy: A Clayton Lovell Stone Adventure is a work of contemporary mystery and thriller with elements of historical fiction, and was penned by author Bruce Hutchison. Part of a series named for its titular character, in this adventure we see Clayton Lovell Stone called to the hallowed grounds of Stratford Upon Avon and beyond when he receives a page of a manuscript that has a connection to his estranged girlfriend’s murder. Finding out what happened to Tracy should be a chore enough, but Stone’s investigation takes him into an even deeper mystery that he must solve first, one that’s over four hundred years in the making.

Filled with delightful conspiracies and intriguing plot twists, fans of both historical fiction and cozy mysteries are sure to dive right into author Bruce Hutchison’s mystery series. Clayton Lovell Stone is a capable but fallible leading man, following clues in true gumshoe tradition but also reasoning out the possibilities with a flair that Holmes would be proud of. I really enjoyed the English setting, which I thought was authentically described for the most part, and the real historical facts, which have gone into making this mystery work, make it all the more engrossing and realistic to experience. Hutchison has a smooth style of narrative that will make readers feel that they are in capable hands, adventuring from page to page with plenty of intrigue and excellent pacing. Overall, The Shakespeare Conspiracy: A Clayton Lovell Stone Adventure delivers all the thrills and spills it promises.

Ankita Shukla

Clayton Lovell Stone, the protagonist in The Shakespeare Conspiracy, the first volume of the Clayton Lovell Stone Adventures by Bruce Hutchison, was aware that his girlfriend, Tracy, wanted him to take their relationship to the next level. Despite his obvious love for her, he was not ready to take the relationship forward. His reluctance did not go unnoticed by Tracy, and she decided to take an assignment in England to put some distance between the two of them. Well, it was part of the reason anyway. The major reason for her undertaking this project was the intrigue it offered. This mysterious assignment, which she did not discuss with Stone, had something to do with Shakespeare's authorship of his plays. She kept it a secret even from Stone because this mysterious task had the potential of changing history. Just when Stone was sure that he was ready to move forward in a relationship with Tracy, he received the devastating news that she had died in an accident in England. He would have believed the accident part if he hadn't received a bloodied postcard and a page of a manuscript from Tracy.

Wow, what a story! I do not know how else to describe The Shakespeare Conspiracy by Bruce Hutchison. History has never fascinated me enough to sit down and read all the facts about important people and places. However, each page of this book held my attention. Bruce Hutchison has woven a perfect tapestry of fiction and historical events. Were the famous plays written by a man named William Shakespeare or was the authorship of these plays intentionally concealed (and granted to a nobody) to hide some royal secrets? By including several quotes from Shakespeare's plays, Bruce Hutchison has further enhanced the quality of the narration. The characters are diverse and have different personalities: vicious, greedy, ambitious, learned, attentive, shrewd and more! It becomes quite evident at the very beginning of the book that the murder mystery is not the only mystery in The Shakespeare Conspiracy. If you are intrigued by a good murder mystery story and scholarly debates on historical facts, then you are going to enjoy this book immensely.

Judith Rook

In The Shakespeare Conspiracy: A Clayton Lovell Stone Adventure, Bruce Hutchison explores the accepted possibility that Lord Edward deVere, a courtier of Elizabeth I, was the author of a universally recognized monument of literature and that William Shakespeare was not even a ghostwriter. But although Hutchison works with very well-researched material—necessary for a successful conspiracy theory novel—his story gains its impetus not so much from the background to the narrative as from the action and the characters playing out the fascinating, sometimes horrific events. The storyline uncovers entrepreneurial and scholarly interests that find a common purpose in retaining the Shakespearean status quo. But new evidence has emerged, sending an American Shakespeare expert to her death in England, prompting her partner, an independently-minded ex-FBI art theft investigator, to execute vengeance on those responsible.

Bruce Hutchison is a writer with an outstanding gift for characterization. For him, human motives and self-understanding appear in many manifestations which, throughout the novel, he presents for his reader’s constant enjoyment. In addition to plenty of strong minor characters, there is a protagonist who suffers from existential uncertainty, an arch-villain who, with unscrupulous power, directs a cadre of board-room influencers, and a psychotic operative who carries out his orders with cold expertise and complete amorality. The Shakespeare Conspiracy is a stylish and colorful novel, presenting some fascinating material and culminating in an unlikely, although quite acceptable climax which takes place inside one of London’s greatest historical monuments. Even if people prefer to accept the historical proofs of Shakespeare’s authorship, this novel explores other possibilities with conviction, presenting a well-structured and persuasive argument that from time to time history may be shown to have been manipulated.

Ruffina Oserio

The Shakespeare Conspiracy: A Clayton Stone Adventure by Bruce Hutchison is the first installment in an engaging thriller with strong hints of mystery and murder, a novel that is deeply rooted in history. Clayton Lovell Stone is an Arts and Artifacts investigator. When his girlfriend, who has distanced herself from him, is murdered, he is left with one thing to uncover the mystery surrounding her murder - a lost manuscript. What awaits him at the end of the trail is a conspiracy involving a deadly attempt to conceal Shakespeare’s authorship and the Crown, and there are people who will kill to destroy the manuscript.

The first thing that I enjoyed in this narrative is the author’s ingenuity in using very simple details to build a plot that is mind-blowing. A bloodied postcard with a manuscript page is an intriguing clue that compels an inquisitive and researching mind to look for answers. The story has a burning question: What if Shakespeare isn’t the real author of the plays that have mesmerized audiences over the centuries? What if they were written by someone else and why is the true author’s identity not revealed? Bruce Hutchison has intelligently crafted this novel, taking readers on a journey back in history, hundreds of years, to explore a conspiracy that has often baffled scholars and readers. The writing leaps off the pages of the book with grace, the conspiracy is also powerful and the conflict is strong. The Shakespeare Conspiracy: A Clayton Stone Adventure is a delightful read with great characters and elements that will entice readers. A page-turner, indeed!

Rabia Tanveer

The Shakespeare Conspiracy is the first volume in the Clayton Lovell Stone Adventure series by Bruce Hutchison. This is the story of a man named Clayton Lovell Stone, a former FBI Art and Antiquities Investigator who receives a very suspicious postcard. This bloody postcard comes with a manuscript page from a very popular play in the handwriting of the original author. His girlfriend Tracy was murdered when she went to England to research a certain something that can destroy the careers of many people. Devastated and intrigued, Clayton must go to England and find out why he received this postcard, why did some people kill his girlfriend and how come he has his hands on a manuscript that he thought shouldn’t even exist. It is a mystery indeed - as he delves deeper into it he realizes that he has something very enigmatic with the potential to end the lives and jobs of many. This is the reason Clayton has to be exceptionally careful as one wrong move and he might be dead the very next second. What is he going to do now?

This was a fast-paced thriller that literally had me reading on even when my eyes were super tired. I just didn’t want to stop. The author has done a wonderful job of weaving the plot, making it interesting, keeping everything connected and allowing the reader to become deeply invested in the story. Clayton is such a cool protagonist; he is intelligent, quirky, witty and exceptionally smart. I enjoyed his reactions, how he took everything seriously and tried to get to the root cause as quickly as possible. There is action, drama, mystery, and suspense and I would change nothing about the story. Clayton Lovell Stone might become the next Robert Langdon and I simply love him! An absolute gem!