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A Jubilee Showboat Mystery

By Cynthia Thomason

     In Stagestruck, Cynthia Thomason introduces readers to a small town Ohio assistant librarian Gwen Barlow. Along with her widowed mother and younger brother Preston, Gwen's life is changed forever when her mother inherits a Mississippi showboat after the unexpected death of Gwen's uncle. Authorities call his death a tragic accident, but soon after arriving at the showboat, Gwen begins to wonder if her uncle's death was accidental-especially when so many people had reason to hate her uncle. As Gwen struggles to pay the many debts and hard feelings left by her uncle, she determines to learn the truth about the accident, which took place aboard the Jubilee Palace.

     I enjoyed Ms. Thomason's Stagestruck. The mystery is populated with likable characters, including the Barlow family and the showboat cast. Ms. Thomason quickly immerses readers not only into the lives of the Barlow's family, but also into the lives of most of the crew and cast of the showboat so that I found myself hoping, along with Gwen, that none of those aboard the Jubilee Place are guilty of murder.

     Ms. Thomason's style was pleasing, the mystery was well written and paced so that I felt no need to skip over lengthy passages of either narrative or unnecessary minute description. But more importantly to this lover of mysteries, she played fair, laying the clues out so that the reader had an equal chance of solving the mystery along with Gwen instead of having Gwen discover some important clue that is withheld from the reader, so that at the end, the reader is left feeling as if the solution had been pulled out of thin air.

     I would love to travel back to 1898 again to board the Jubilee Place to see what new mysteries await the Barlows and the other inhabitants of the Mississippi Riverboat.

The Book

Five Star
November 1, 2004
Historical Mystery / Amateur Sleuth
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The Reviewer

Mary Lynn
Reviewed 2005
NOTE: Reviewer Mary Lynn is the author of "Dear Cari."
© 2005