Disaster at the Vendome Theater

Penguin Pr. (Provençal Mystery, Bk. 10). Oct. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780143135302. pap. $17. M
Longworth’s 10th Provençal novel (following The Vanishing Museum on the Rue Mistral) is a literary mystery that’s more character-driven than suspenseful. A group of professional and amateur actors come together to perform Marcel Pagnol’s play Cigalon in a small theater in Aix-en-Provence, France. But then the death of one of the actors, Gauthier, brings the play to a screeching halt and places it on the verge of cancellation. Investigating, the police slowly discover hidden connections between the actors and the play’s director. Further questioning reveals that three of the people involved with Cigalon were also in a production of West Side Story 25 years earlier. The mystery intensifies when another cast member is pushed down the stairs at the theater.
VERDICT This is a slow-burn mystery with little gore or suspense, but the alternating points of view give readers a unique perspective on the murders. For fans of Miranda James’s “Cat in the Stacks” mysteries, which also walk the line between lighthearted fluff and suspense while dispensing with graphic violence.
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