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by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Crooked Lane Books, November 2017
ISBN: 1683313259

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax and Paula Van Dusen, the chair of the Shakespeare in the Catskills Theater group, discover they have a major problem. With very little time until this season's show as due to open, they learn that their director isn't going to be available, leaving them with a big-name actress coming to star in a production without a director. They consider having a local man fill in, but Audrey Ashley, the star, wants a director she has worked with before, so the British Edmund Albright is hired.

Almost from the moment he arrives things started going downhill. First he wants to completely change the focus of the play, setting it in a completely different time period requiring new costumes to be designed and made with not a lot of time or cash to work with. Then it seems as though everyone in the cast except Audrey is unhappy with him about something. When he apparently commits suicide, there really are few tears shed over him. The problem is, despite the sheriff's ruling the death a suicide, Charlotte is convinced it was murder.

This is an interesting book. I was deep into it, merrily enjoying the behind the scenes theater preparations and the interactions of the characters, when I realized there had been no crime. This sent me back to reread the flap to check that this was a mystery. It is, but the murder occurs far into the book. I found this a bit interesting and I'm curious if the other books in the series also have the crime delayed. No matter though, the cast of characters and the behind the scenes look at the world of theater were certainly entertaining enough to keep me reading.

Although I am a fan of Duncan's Penny Brannigan series set in Wales, I somehow missed this series. MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is the third book in the Shakespeare in the Catskills series, but this is the first book in the series that I have read. That proved to be only a minor issue early on until I sorted out the characters. After that, it read as a stand-alone.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, December 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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