Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Don't you like it when an author with one enjoyable series launches another one that's just as appealing? Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of the Penny Brannigan series set in North Wales. Now, she takes readers to the Catskill Mountains for a summer Shakespeare festival. Untimely Death introduces costume designer Charlotte Fairfax.

Charlotte was once the costume mistress for the Royal Shakespeare Company. For ten years now, she's been in charge of the wardrobes and costumes for a small production company in Walkers Ridge, New York, working out of the Jacobs Grand Hotel. And, Charlotte knows something about small towns. "Despite the outward appearance of dull tranquility, village life often hid long-held secrets and hearts of darkness." Theatre companies can do the same. When a young actress is murdered early in the rehearsals for "Romeo and Juliet", Charlotte's in the perfect position to ask questions. She sees everyone involved in the production. And, she can easily pass her information on to the Chief of Police, since she and Ray are dating.

Anyone who enjoys theatre will appreciate the behind-the-scenes peek inside the wardrobe mistress' workroom. Charlotte is an appealing amateur sleuth with her knowledge of costuming. It will take a little time to develop the leading characters in greater depth. And, one of my favorite characters, Charlotte's summer intern, Aaron, might not be back since he was on a break from school. Some of the characters show promise, though, beginning with Charlotte and Ray.

However, despite their actions, one of Charlotte's actions is deceptive. With no spoilers, I won't reveal what she does, but I was disappointed in her behavior. Even Charlotte didn't know why she acted the way she did. "All she could think of, the only way she could justify it was that there'd been a murder, and for some reason she couldn't begin to explain, even to herself, she wanted in on it." Disappointing to me, but typical for so many amateur sleuths.

Meet Charlotte Fairfax, costume designer, costume mistress, and amateur sleuth. Because she has her own secret, she knows others do as well. With her background in the theatre world, she understands people. It's her curiosity that drives her to talk to people about the Untimely Death. And, it's the theatre background that brings this engaging new mystery series to life.

Elizabeth J. Duncan's website is www.elizabethjduncan.com

Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan. Crooked Lane Books. 2015. ISBN 9781629531915 (hardcover), 278p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Robin Coxon said...

Thanks for the intro to this interesting sounding mystery. I have posted it to my want to read list and will be looking for it at my bookstore.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I'm not sure if this will make it on my list, but have you noticed that upstate New York is featuring in more and more mystery series in recent years? Of course Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne series tops my list, but there have been several others using the area lately.

Jeff M.

Lesa said...

I hope you enjoy it, Robin.

Lesa said...

I'm not sure it would really interest you, Jeff. You're right. There has been an influx of crime in upstate New York lately. And, Julia Spencer-Fleming tops my list as well.