Charlotte Fairfax is the costume designer for the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company. As the company prepares to stage Much Ado About Nothing, many things at the resort/theater are shaking things up.
Their star, Audrey Ashley, has arrived from England with her sister/manager in tow. The director, who left town for personal reasons, decides suddenly not to return. The theater board tries to hire Wade Radcliffe, a local director, to replace him. But Miss Ashley, as the star, has veto power. She instead calls in Edmund Albright. In a surprise for everyone, including Audrey, Albright decides to modify the play to take place in the era of the Civil War. Budgets, sets, costumes, and his star’s disapproval, will not dissuade him.
As if the staffing changes and debates over the timing and setting for the play hadn’t slowed things down already, the death of a key player threatens to derail the whole thing permanently. Charlotte is determined to find the truth and save the play.
This is the third book in the Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery series, and my first introduction to these characters.
This series is written in third person which was a shift for me from many of the cozies I read. You wouldn’t think it would make much of a difference but for some reason it did. The transitions from Charlotte’s scenes to others when she wasn’t there were jarring. I didn’t feel connected to her as a main character. There was a distance for the entire story that didn’t click for me. There were times early on when I was still finding the rhythm of the story where it felt like I was reading non-fiction because of the distance and formality in some of the writing. I prefer my cozies to be much warmer, and, well, cozier.
The mystery is solid from the start. There’s lots of time to get used to the different characters and their personalities and build tension over the play before the murder takes place. I was completely off base about the murderer, but the clues were there all along. Once I got into the story I was happy to read until the conclusion.
I missed the warmth and connection I feel with my favorite mysteries. I might read more of this series, if there was a story line that intrigued me. But the writing would take some getting used to for me. Other readers will not be bothered by the writing and will love this solid mystery.
Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the electronic review copy offered in exchange for an honest review.