by Sandra Murphy
& JC Eaton
This week we have a review of Staged 4 Murder by Ann I. Goldfarb & James E. Clapp, writing as J.C.Eaton, and a fun guest post from them about the setting of the book. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Staged 4 Murder, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Staged 4 Murder: Sophie Kimball Mystery by J. C. Eaton
Review by Sandra Murphy
Arizona, a nice place for seniors to live. Sophie (Phee), is happy to be near her mother although a bit of distance would be helpful. Phee works as an accountant for an investigative service. Her mom thinks of her as a full-fledged PI which should be harmless enough.
Harriet (Mom) and her friends are cast in the community theater production of Agatha Christies’ Mousetrap. Rehearsals should keep them occupied, a good thing, because Phee’s crush, an investigator from Minnesota, is joining the firm. That’s enough of a distraction by itself.
There’s always one person who thinks “I am a star,” who suffers while acting with people who haven’t a clue, and who takes every opportunity to point that out. Miranda wanted a spotlight on her at all times, demanded her clothes be custom made, not standard stage wear, and was a major pain to everyone in the theater. It’s no wonder she was the victim.
Now the ladies are worried there’s a serial killer loose in the theater. Or a ghost. Lights flicker, the air conditioning kicks on without warning, threatening notes are found—all of which mean multiple daily updates to Phee. While she’s working.
When Harriet decides to hire the firm to investigate, Marshall, the PI crush, takes the case with Phee’s help. Is it just for the job or a chance to be near her?
The locks haven’t been changed in twenty years so who knows how many people still have a key to the theater? Odds are though, the killer is part of the Mousetrap production.
Phee has the patience of a saint to deal with Harriet and the rest of the cast. There’s a nice spark between Phee and Marshall to add a little spice. Streetman, the Chiweenie, needs to be involved more—he’s too cute to leave in the wings. The mystery is a good one with plenty of suspects, motives, and opportunity, coming to a satisfying conclusion. Plot twists and red herrings will keep readers guessing right up to the end.
This is the third in the series but the first I’ve read. Eaton doesn’t add a lot of backstory about the first books, so the pacing for this book moves along well. I’ll have to go back to read Booked 4 Murder and Ditched for Murder. Look for Botched 4 Murder in January. Eaton also writes the Wine Trail Mysteries (e-book only) A Riesling to Die and Chardonnayed to Death, available in September.
How Did Our Third Murder Mystery Land in Sun City West’s Stardust Theater?
By Ann I. Goldfarb & James E. Clapp, writing as J.C.Eaton
The combination of a senior living community and a community theater was just too hard to resist! And since the location of our mysteries (Sun City West, Arizona) has its own theater, naturally we had to take advantage of it and use it as the staging ground for murder. (No pun intended).
Both of us thought it would be fun to have Harriet Plunkett and her book club ladies take part in a theater production. From trapdoors to tungsten halogen lighting, we figured we could create enough obstacles to keep everyone guessing, especially the characters in our book.
By now, we’ve gotten really used to the book club ladies and the idiosyncrasies. And what better way to take advantage of that than to introduce one of their most beloved authors, Agatha Christie, and use her play, The Mousetrap, as the one in our book. Besides, Harriet was perfect as the imposing Mrs. Boyle, and Myrna Mittleson was a shoe-in for the role of Miss Casewell. Our book nearly wrote itself!
The Mousetrap is such a well-known play that we were certain most readers would be somewhat familiar with it, making our mystery even more fun. But it wasn’t only Agatha Christie who moved us along. We drew on our own background as well.
For years, we’ve taken part in community theater productions back east. Ann usually landed a decent speaking role while Jim banged the hammer backstage to help make the sets. Since Jim was a former carpenter, it was difficult for him to remember that the sets were only supposed to last a few weeks, not a few decades. Taking apart a set that Jim built was a task in and of itself.
We knew how the ancient curtains worked in our community theater in Dryden, New York, and how the crazy sound system in Ann’s old middle school made everyone believe there were really ghosts in the theater. We took advantage of that as well. Not to mention the “tech crews” we worked with over the years. Those grumbling men who ran the lights on the catwalk were composites of the quirky characters we really did work with! It seemed each unique part of the theater itself inspired us. But the most fun of all was Streetman’s discovery backstage. You’ll have to read it for yourself because we don’t want to spoil it for you! We will tell you, however, that it is based on a true story that happened to one of our friends.
Like most writers, we draw upon our own experiences and impressions to create a fictional world with the right amount of reality (and hyperbole) to draw readers in and hopefully, keep them there. Staged 4 Murder is a prime example, and we hope it will keep you laughing and guessing whodunit!
To enter to win a copy of Staged 4 Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “staged,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 18, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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