I’ll be honest: when The Common asked me to review Ros Barber’s new book, The Marlowe Papers, I was leery. Novels-in-verse aren’t really my thing. Reading the back cover blurbs, I became even more skeptical: a novel in iambic pentameter (rhymed and blank verse) from the point of view of the English poet, playwright, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), whom conspiracy theorists claim was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays? The book claims Marlowe’s death, in a bar-fight before the Church of England could charge him with heresy, was staged to let him escape England. And while in hiding, he ghost-wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays.