Playing Dead | Two Mysteries Offering Cozy Drama

Check out these two cozy mysteries that celebrate theater.

Greene, M.S. There’s No Murder Like Show Murder. Crooked Lane. Jul. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9781639108190. $29.99. M

DEBUT Tasha Weaver is passionate about the Eastbrook Playhouse. She grew up in the regional theater and is now the head of the costume shop. Although Kurt Mozer, the leading man in the new production of Annie Get Your Gun, is disliked by the director and the other actors, Tasha knows how much the theater needs him. He may no longer be a Broadway star, but his name is selling tickets. When Kurt disappears, amid rumors that he quit, Tasha tracks him down and massages his ego, and he agrees to return. When he’s killed that same night in the theater, she feels guilty. Now the theater she loves is threatened again, and one of her friends might be a murderer. Tasha realizes she must turn amateur sleuth to save her friends and the Eastbrook Playhouse. It’s what Tasha does, being a fixer who loves the theater. VERDICT Playwright Greene brings his love and passion for musical theater to this new series. Theater fans will appreciate the behind-the-scenes knowledge, along with the small details so essential to the atmosphere of this cozy mystery.

Lyerly, Scott. The Last Line. Crooked Lane. Jul. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781639108213. $29.99. M

DEBUT The play Murder in a Teacup might just save the Kaleidoscope Theater. The owner of the Kaleidoscope, Ellie Marlowe, knows that Reginald Thornton IV, the former Broadway actor, is the reason ticket sales are booming in her small community playhouse, but she doesn’t realize the overbearing lead is making the entire cast and crew miserable. He’s supposed to die onstage during the play, but when he actually expires, Ellie fears for her players and her theater. Although the Massachusetts police call Thornton’s death a heart attack, Ellie is uneasy. She teams up with a childhood friend, the local police chief, to investigate the death. The stress only exacerbates her Tourette’s syndrome, but Ellie perseveres, looking for a killer. VERDICT While Lyerly’s cozy mystery debut celebrates theater, it also shines a spotlight on Tourette’s syndrome and emphasizes that some of the manifestations are different from those shown on television. Readers of cozy mysteries interested in current topics such as sexual assault, dementia, and newspaper cutbacks might want to try this book. Suggest for fans of Mia P. Manansala.

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