Title: Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery Series Book Three
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 194 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, Much Ado About Nothing. The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright.
Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way?
With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.
In Elizabeth J. Duncan’s latest installment in the Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery series, Much Ado About Murder, costume designer and amateur sleuth Charlotte Fairfax investigates the troubling death of replacement director, Edmund Albright. The police have ruled his death a suicide but Charlotte and her friend Paula Van Dusen are certain he was murdered. But who amongst the cast of their latest production would have killed him?
Just as rehearsals on the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are about to begin, the company’s director abruptly leaves his position. Charlotte and Paula put their heads together and suggest local Wade Radcliffe as their replacement, but lead actress Audrey Ashley wants British director Edmund Albright to direct the play. Needless to say, neither Charlotte nor Paula are overly excited about Audrey’s choice and soon the entire cast is up in arms by Edmund’s vision for the play. However, before rehearsals have even begun, Audrey and Charlotte discover Edmund’s lifeless body in the director’s bungalow. Based on evidence at the scene, the police quickly rule his death a suicide but Charlotte is equally certain someone murdered him. In between rehearsals and designing the costumes, Charlotte searches for evidence to support her theory.
The first person that Charlotte takes a close look at during her investigation is local actress Mattie Lane. Mattie has made no secret that she desires bigger and better roles, but how far would she go to make that happen? Well, since Charlotte knows Mattie has already tried to sway Edmund into recasting her into a more important role, she must consider the budding actress as one of her chief suspects.
Then there is newcomer Audrey Ashley and her sister/manager Maxine Kaminski. Maxine is quite protective of Audrey but would she commit murder to help Audrey’s career? Since Audrey suggested Edmund for the director position, what possible motive would she have for killing him? Like most of the cast, Audrey is dismayed by Edmund’s vision for their upcoming production but is she upset enough over his interpretation of the play to kill him?
With Paula as her trusty sidekick, Charlotte eagerly begins digging into Edmund’s activities after his arrival in town. They quickly uncover some rather intriguing information that warrants a closer look. This tantalizing discovery yields startling revelations that Charlotte knows is somehow linked to Edmund’s death, but will she unmask the killer before it is too late?
With the murder not taking place until almost the halfway point, Much Ado About Murder is a low-key mystery with a wonderful cast of characters and a fantastic setting. Skillfully but slowly setting the stage for Edmund’s untimely death, Elizabeth J. Duncan keeps the perpetrator’s identity and motive for the murder cleverly concealed until the novel’s exciting conclusion. This latest outing in the Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery series will delight old and new fans who enjoy cozy mysteries.