26 March 2019

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio



If We Were Villains



"a tale of madness and obsession and  Shakespeare!"

AMAZON UK
audiobook reviewed
Narrator: Robert Petkoff

thriller/  mystery
present day

"Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends - a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago. As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off - villain, hero, tyrant, temptress - though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else's story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life. When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless."


Not an historical novel, but those interested in the Bard and his works, and who like a good mystery/thriller should enjoy this. This was a tale of madness and obsession and  Shakespeare! A group of theatre students at a prestigious college, nearing graduation, are coming unraveled and their places in their group are not as secure as they once thought. Tensions come to a head when they receive their role assignments for a major play in the fall and not all goes as they expect. Soon after, one of their troupe ends up dead and the others know more than they are willing to admit. Someone has to take the fall for what turns out to be a killing rather than an accidental death, and the resolution does indeed “make mad the guilty, and appall the free.” 


There was almost nothing I didn’t love about this book. The characters were well developed and complex. They all had flaws and some were just downright nasty. Some were confusing - I do not understand Oliver’s motivations at all, nor why certain others remained silent. I loved all the Shakespearean quotes scattered throughout the text. I also loved the behind the scenes views of how Shakespearean actors learn how to be Shakespearean actors. I know, for example, that they don’t actually hit each other on stage, but I never really thought about just how much choreography and practice it takes to make a slap look real, or how to do a punch differently than a slap and make that look real as well. 

Practicing with swords and foils and voice coaches to learn the difference of accent and dialects, all these things are just part of it. Then there is the history and social commentary woven into each play. It was a flashback to some of my better literature classes from my undergrad years. I loved it!



© Kristen McQuinn 

* we review novels  set post 1953 at our discretion




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