Christopher Moore is known for writing absurd fiction, usually centering on an "everyman" who is struggling through an extraordinary, or supernatural, circumstance (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16218.Christopher_Moore). His books are hilarious and witty, extremely well-researched, and inappropriate for a younger audience (lots of language and mature content).
When I saw The Serpent of Venice, the English teacher in me couldn't wait to see Moore riff on one of my favourite Shakespearean plays. The story follows Antonio the merchant, Montressor Brabantio the senator, and Iago the naval officer as they lure Pocket, the Fool, to a party. If you're up on your Shakespeare, you are seeing how The Merchant of Venice and Othello are starting to overlap. Since they both take place in Venice, this is a brilliant premise.
Of course, Shakespeare's audience will expect that all is not as it seems. The party is an empty promise as the three men intend to lure Pocket to his death (they are sick of having him as a dinner guest- keep that in mind the next time a friend invites you over for a meal!). Luckily for Pocket, he is not as foolish as he seems.
In addition to Shakespeare, Moore expertly weaves Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado into this fun read. I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind foul language and crass sexual innuendo. I think that English teachers and lovers of literature in particular will get a kick out of seeing the three classics retold.
Food for thought... What is your favourite classical piece of literature? Would you want to read a "retold" version, or are some things too sacred to mess with? Any ideas for an updated version of a classic?