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William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.

Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from today's most respected academics to eccentrics like Delia Bacon, an American who developed a firm but unsubstantiated conviction that her namesake, Francis Bacon, was the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunkerlike room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed.

Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air," "foregone conclusion," "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's—the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.

Topics: England, London, Elizabethan Era, Writers, Language, Writing, Art & Artists, Witty, Informative, 21st Century, American Author, and Male Author

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061983658
List price: $9.99
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One of my new faves in suspense fiction! Gross got his start with James Patterson, but he really comes into his own with The Blue Zone. This book was outlandish and believable at the same time. I will most assuredly read more of him!more
Kate Raab is 23 years old and life is perfect. She has a close relationship with her parents and siblings, a loving boyfriend, Greg, and a promising career as a biologist. Then things start to go wrong: her father is arrested for racketeering; he has to testify against a Columbian drug cartel; her family has to abandon their wealthy lifestyle and enter the FBI’s Witness Protection Program. Allowed no contact, Kate learns to live without them: at least she has Greg to love and support her. But, just when things seem to be back on an even keel, her life turns upside down. Her best friend is shot and fighting for her life; her father has gone missing from the Program; her family’s case worker is found brutally murdered. Is the FBI lying to her? Is someone trying to kill her? Then she stumbles upon a family secret that has her wondering if everything she has trusted in her whole life has been a lie. She needs to find her father, but she no longer knows in whom she can trust. Andrew Gross’s debut into solo writing is a fast-moving nail-biter. His heroine is believable, and he makes it easy for us to identify with her thoughts, feelings and emotions. Having set the scene, he keeps the plot twists coming at full speed. Once you start reading, this one is impossible to put down. Let’s see more from Andrew Gross!more
I bought this book from a bargain bin thinking it looked OK. As soon as I started reading this fine debut solo book, I had to remark how great a buy this was.The plot is fast paced with numerous plot twists. The author clearly thought out the storyline with great attention to making it a great thriller. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers and mysteries.The characters can be felt through the writing. You may think you understand a character but watch out - your thoughts will likely change as you read this fine thriller. I will now seek out the rest of his solo books for a high position in my reading queue.more
I had this one on the shelf for while and had no clue what it was about. When I read the introductory notes I was intrigued. If Gross had spent more time exploring WITSEC this would have been a much better book. Other than the definitions of the three zones (which is what intrigued me to begin with) you learn absolutely nothing about the program. After all it's a work of fiction, throw some interesting bits in and let the reader decide if it's authentic. All along I felt I was reading the basis for what became the tv series, In Plain Sight, right down to the note on the dashboard of a US Marshall. Coincidence? Maybe.more
Evidently this author frequently wrote in tandem with James Patterson and this was the first book he wrote on his own. The story was unbelievably convoluted in an effort to keep the reader off balance, but I thought it became ridiculous.more
I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely read another from this author again. Loved the characters, the twists and turns, and held my attention all the way through.more
This story is about what happens when the web of deceit spun around a drugs cartel begins to unravel. Just how far will those involved go to get revenge? Not my usual reading material but I really enjoyed it. Lots of twists and turns.more
Definitely a page turner. Fast read with an intricate plot. Keeps you guessing. I really enjoyed reading this book. If you enjoyed the books where Gross co-authored with James Patterson, I recommend you try this one.more
An interesting plot idea which for me didn't quite come off. The basic story is of a New York gold trader caught by the FBI dealing with a Columbian drug family, resulting in him being persuaded to go into Witness Protection with his family and the consequences for his family of that decision. The plot gets a bit complicated near the end and it is hard to quite figure out who is doing what to whom and why, but mildly entertaining.more
Told from the PoV of the daughter of a nasty criminal, this is one fast book. My hair blew back from the speed I was turning pages, and I don't have a lot of hair. (Unless you count my shoulders. Oh, and back. They don't blow around so much, though.) I was awake an entire night finishing the book, and am I glad I did!So, the girl in question is in her first year at Snazzmatazz U, thinking her life is about perfect: Daddy's rich, kind, attentive, and mommy's adequately drugged, and she's just so happy she could spit, right?*FLOOEY*Her father tells her the truth at last, he's not the sweetie-punkin she thought, and all five of her family are headed for the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC). Well, that's worse than a broken heel on your Jimmy Choos! She goes into the program, expecting all will go well, after all it's a government run program, right?*FLOOEY*A year later, her WITSEC agent-pal is found tortured and murdered and the WITSEC guys show her pictures of the remains before telling her that Pops is missing. She has to help them figure this out!!Well, nothing here to strain the brain of a thriller reader, and all unfolds like one would want and expect it to do. Gross co-wrote a couple novels with James Patterson, who returns the kindness with a very nice blurb. He knows his onions about pacing and about plot twists. He's got some grasp of character development, too. He's not up there with Steve Berry, but he's a darn good day's entertainment.more
Slick fast predictable thriller with twists and turns that make it unbelievable and extremely unlikely. Its pace makes up for its lack of cohesive realismmore
A bit lightweight but well plotted and quite addictive.more
This book was a very light read. I thought it had a weak plot, weak characters and was boring and mediocre overall. There were a few times the writing piqued my interest, but for the most part, this book made me seriously think about laying it down and finding something else to read.If you are looking for something that is a quick, easy read without much substance, you might like this one. Otherwise, pick out something else.more
Rubbish. I was halfway through a longish rant about just how rubbish this book was when my PC rebooted and I lost it all. The essance though, was that this was free ebook bundled with my new Sony Reader, and as such it made perfect training material on how to find a comfortble way to hold it and what all the buttons did. You certainly didn't want to spare any attention for the actual words. Kate learns that her idyllic rich family might have a few skeletons in the closet. However such a pampered life means she feels totally happy completely bypassing the FBI (who are ludicrously inept at stopping her) and deals with all the gun-toting mob thugs very unrealistically. The plot is totally predicatble, with any significant twists being telegraphed miles in advance. And the jumps in narrative voice managing to give away anything else that might have contributed to dramatic tension or character development. Oh, and the ending is pathetically weak as well.....................................................................................................................more
GREAT BOOK, VERY SUSPENSFUL!more
Kate's life becomes unraveled when her family has to go into the Witness Protection Program for their own safety. But wait....just who is her family??? Gross does so much better writing without Patterson, in my opinion. He seems to have a better story line with better development of characters.This definitely is difficult to put down!more
Despite some flaws (characters that didn't make sense, some clumsy plotting, obvious conclusion etc), it was a reasonably fast read. However, my criteria is whether I would go out of my way to read another book- and the answer is no.more
This pacy thriller unfolds so that the reader's understanding of the heroine's circumstances matches hers as she tries to understand the mystery represented by her father's disappearance from the USA's witness protection program. Because it is such an easy read, I was not distracted by some of the clumsy phrasing.more
A lot of unknowns and still not sure why all the fuss was taken even after you get the big picture. Some parts were exciting but overall not recommended.more
A lot of twists and turns in this story of a father who runs away from investigation and when his daughter investigates she finds that there are a lot of lies in the past, a past that might kill her.It's not a bad novel but it has some moments that just don't flow.more
This pacy thriller unfolds so that the reader's understanding of the heroine's circumstances matches hers as she tries to understand the mystery represented by her father's disappearance from the USA's witness protection program. Because it is such an easy read, I was not distracted by some of the clumsy phrasing.more
Read all 27 reviews

Reviews

One of my new faves in suspense fiction! Gross got his start with James Patterson, but he really comes into his own with The Blue Zone. This book was outlandish and believable at the same time. I will most assuredly read more of him!more
Kate Raab is 23 years old and life is perfect. She has a close relationship with her parents and siblings, a loving boyfriend, Greg, and a promising career as a biologist. Then things start to go wrong: her father is arrested for racketeering; he has to testify against a Columbian drug cartel; her family has to abandon their wealthy lifestyle and enter the FBI’s Witness Protection Program. Allowed no contact, Kate learns to live without them: at least she has Greg to love and support her. But, just when things seem to be back on an even keel, her life turns upside down. Her best friend is shot and fighting for her life; her father has gone missing from the Program; her family’s case worker is found brutally murdered. Is the FBI lying to her? Is someone trying to kill her? Then she stumbles upon a family secret that has her wondering if everything she has trusted in her whole life has been a lie. She needs to find her father, but she no longer knows in whom she can trust. Andrew Gross’s debut into solo writing is a fast-moving nail-biter. His heroine is believable, and he makes it easy for us to identify with her thoughts, feelings and emotions. Having set the scene, he keeps the plot twists coming at full speed. Once you start reading, this one is impossible to put down. Let’s see more from Andrew Gross!more
I bought this book from a bargain bin thinking it looked OK. As soon as I started reading this fine debut solo book, I had to remark how great a buy this was.The plot is fast paced with numerous plot twists. The author clearly thought out the storyline with great attention to making it a great thriller. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers and mysteries.The characters can be felt through the writing. You may think you understand a character but watch out - your thoughts will likely change as you read this fine thriller. I will now seek out the rest of his solo books for a high position in my reading queue.more
I had this one on the shelf for while and had no clue what it was about. When I read the introductory notes I was intrigued. If Gross had spent more time exploring WITSEC this would have been a much better book. Other than the definitions of the three zones (which is what intrigued me to begin with) you learn absolutely nothing about the program. After all it's a work of fiction, throw some interesting bits in and let the reader decide if it's authentic. All along I felt I was reading the basis for what became the tv series, In Plain Sight, right down to the note on the dashboard of a US Marshall. Coincidence? Maybe.more
Evidently this author frequently wrote in tandem with James Patterson and this was the first book he wrote on his own. The story was unbelievably convoluted in an effort to keep the reader off balance, but I thought it became ridiculous.more
I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely read another from this author again. Loved the characters, the twists and turns, and held my attention all the way through.more
This story is about what happens when the web of deceit spun around a drugs cartel begins to unravel. Just how far will those involved go to get revenge? Not my usual reading material but I really enjoyed it. Lots of twists and turns.more
Definitely a page turner. Fast read with an intricate plot. Keeps you guessing. I really enjoyed reading this book. If you enjoyed the books where Gross co-authored with James Patterson, I recommend you try this one.more
An interesting plot idea which for me didn't quite come off. The basic story is of a New York gold trader caught by the FBI dealing with a Columbian drug family, resulting in him being persuaded to go into Witness Protection with his family and the consequences for his family of that decision. The plot gets a bit complicated near the end and it is hard to quite figure out who is doing what to whom and why, but mildly entertaining.more
Told from the PoV of the daughter of a nasty criminal, this is one fast book. My hair blew back from the speed I was turning pages, and I don't have a lot of hair. (Unless you count my shoulders. Oh, and back. They don't blow around so much, though.) I was awake an entire night finishing the book, and am I glad I did!So, the girl in question is in her first year at Snazzmatazz U, thinking her life is about perfect: Daddy's rich, kind, attentive, and mommy's adequately drugged, and she's just so happy she could spit, right?*FLOOEY*Her father tells her the truth at last, he's not the sweetie-punkin she thought, and all five of her family are headed for the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC). Well, that's worse than a broken heel on your Jimmy Choos! She goes into the program, expecting all will go well, after all it's a government run program, right?*FLOOEY*A year later, her WITSEC agent-pal is found tortured and murdered and the WITSEC guys show her pictures of the remains before telling her that Pops is missing. She has to help them figure this out!!Well, nothing here to strain the brain of a thriller reader, and all unfolds like one would want and expect it to do. Gross co-wrote a couple novels with James Patterson, who returns the kindness with a very nice blurb. He knows his onions about pacing and about plot twists. He's got some grasp of character development, too. He's not up there with Steve Berry, but he's a darn good day's entertainment.more
Slick fast predictable thriller with twists and turns that make it unbelievable and extremely unlikely. Its pace makes up for its lack of cohesive realismmore
A bit lightweight but well plotted and quite addictive.more
This book was a very light read. I thought it had a weak plot, weak characters and was boring and mediocre overall. There were a few times the writing piqued my interest, but for the most part, this book made me seriously think about laying it down and finding something else to read.If you are looking for something that is a quick, easy read without much substance, you might like this one. Otherwise, pick out something else.more
Rubbish. I was halfway through a longish rant about just how rubbish this book was when my PC rebooted and I lost it all. The essance though, was that this was free ebook bundled with my new Sony Reader, and as such it made perfect training material on how to find a comfortble way to hold it and what all the buttons did. You certainly didn't want to spare any attention for the actual words. Kate learns that her idyllic rich family might have a few skeletons in the closet. However such a pampered life means she feels totally happy completely bypassing the FBI (who are ludicrously inept at stopping her) and deals with all the gun-toting mob thugs very unrealistically. The plot is totally predicatble, with any significant twists being telegraphed miles in advance. And the jumps in narrative voice managing to give away anything else that might have contributed to dramatic tension or character development. Oh, and the ending is pathetically weak as well.....................................................................................................................more
GREAT BOOK, VERY SUSPENSFUL!more
Kate's life becomes unraveled when her family has to go into the Witness Protection Program for their own safety. But wait....just who is her family??? Gross does so much better writing without Patterson, in my opinion. He seems to have a better story line with better development of characters.This definitely is difficult to put down!more
Despite some flaws (characters that didn't make sense, some clumsy plotting, obvious conclusion etc), it was a reasonably fast read. However, my criteria is whether I would go out of my way to read another book- and the answer is no.more
This pacy thriller unfolds so that the reader's understanding of the heroine's circumstances matches hers as she tries to understand the mystery represented by her father's disappearance from the USA's witness protection program. Because it is such an easy read, I was not distracted by some of the clumsy phrasing.more
A lot of unknowns and still not sure why all the fuss was taken even after you get the big picture. Some parts were exciting but overall not recommended.more
A lot of twists and turns in this story of a father who runs away from investigation and when his daughter investigates she finds that there are a lot of lies in the past, a past that might kill her.It's not a bad novel but it has some moments that just don't flow.more
This pacy thriller unfolds so that the reader's understanding of the heroine's circumstances matches hers as she tries to understand the mystery represented by her father's disappearance from the USA's witness protection program. Because it is such an easy read, I was not distracted by some of the clumsy phrasing.more
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