Tamburlaine Must Die was far too short. Louise Welsh has written a racy, exciting story of sex, jealousy, and revenge, and it was so short and simple as to be almost entirely insubstantial. Better to call it a novella, or a perhaps a longish short story (given the large type) than a proper novel. Christopher Marlowe came properly alive with a lively and distinctive voice, and I enjoyed him as a narrator. Welsh’s prose has the flavour of a proper Elizabethan dialect, if not exactly the form. The only book that I can think of to compare it to is Leon Rooke’s Shakespeare’s Dog, and just like in life, Kit Marlowe is wonderful, but he doesn’t quite sing like Shakespeare. I was more willing to accept Marlowe as a believable character than I expected, but the fact that all the major characters but one are major players in Elizabethan life (Doctor Dee, Sir Walter Raleigh) rather annoyed me. I doubt that even Marlowe was that well connected. Welsh gets extra points for not putting Marlowe’s death on display, but ultimately Tamburlaine Must Die was simply far too short to achieve much beyond a few simple thrills. (Although a few simple thrills are reason enough to read a book.)
Next, in keeping with my complete disregard for statements made earlier, is John MacLachlan Gray’s Not Quite Dead.