Title: Ill Met by Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery Series Book Two
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
It’s the most important night of the year for costume designer Charlotte Fairfax and the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company–the annual fund raising performance at the country estate of the wealthy widow Paula Van Dusen. This year, the company will give a moonlight performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as part of the wedding celebrations for Paula’s daughter, Belinda, and her fiance Adrian. But then Hugh Hedley, family friend of the Van Dusens and Adrian’s rival in the cutthroat world of high-end Manhattan real estate, is found murdered with a stolen prop from the play.
Paula, desperate to keep her daughter’s name of out of the paper, enlists Charlotte’s help, despite the fact that Charlotte’s already got her hands full amidst her costume design responsibilities and finding a home for the company’s new theater school. But Charlotte nevertheless throws herself into an investigation of shady business deals, a missing dog, and long buried family secrets because “though she be but little, she is fierce!” Ill Met by Murder, the second in Elizabeth J. Duncan’s compelling mystery series, will satisfy every Shakespeare and mystery lover alike.
Ill Met by Murder is a perplexing addition to Elizabeth J. Duncan’s delightfully entertaining Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery series. This latest release in this wonderful cozy mystery starring amateur sleuth Charlotte Fairfax can easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the previous novel as well.
Charlotte and her assistant Aaron Jacobs once again find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation when real estate mogul Hugh Hedley is killed on the estate of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company’s biggest fundraiser, Paula Van Dusen. This year’s fundraising production is also part of the celebration for the upcoming wedding of Paula’s daughter Belinda and her fiancé Adrian Archer, Hugh’s biggest competitor in the real estate world. With her curiosity piqued by tension in the bridal party and snippets of overheard conversations, Charlotte does a little investigating on her own as she tries to piece together who killed Hugh.
With the latest production going smoothly, Charlotte has plenty of time to see if she can figure out a motive for Hugh’s murder. Paula confides to her that she believes that his death might have been a case of mistaken identity and that her prospective son-in-law Adrian could have been the intended target. Charlotte is unsure whether there is any truth to Paula’s claims since she has made no secret of the fact that she disapproves of Belinda’s fiancé. A little digging into the men’s business dealings reveals they have been involved an extremely contentious real estate transaction but is this a motive for murder?
In between looking for clues to the identity of Adrian’s killer, Charlotte is doing the preliminary work that needs to be done in order to open a theater school. Securing the funding and locating a property for the school are top priorities and she is finally making a little headway on the project. After looking at a nearby house that would be perfect for the school, Charlotte makes a puzzling discovery that inadvertently puts her in harm’s way. After she learns the truth about a long held family secret, will Charlotte finally have the evidence she needs to identify Adrian’s killer?
With a cast of eccentric characters, an intriguing mystery and a clever storyline, Ill Met for Murder is another marvelous installment in the Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery series. Elizabeth J. Duncan offers several plausible motives for the murder along with a vast pool of suspects which makes it virtually impossible for readers to guess the killer’s identity until the novel’s rather dramatic conclusion. I highly recommend this spectacular whodunit to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries.