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Untimely Death (Review 1)
Shakespeare in the Catskills #1
Elizabeth J. Duncan

Crooked Lane Books
November 10, 2015 / ISBN 978-1-62953-191-5

Reviewed by Laura Hinds



Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax hailed from Britain where she worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company of Stratford-upon-Avon, but now she lives in the Catskills and is the longest-serving employee of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company. The company performs at the Shakespeare festival at the Jacobs Grand Hotel, and times have been lean of late, but the area seems to be on the verge of an upswing.

Harvey Jacobs owns the hotel, and has brought his nephew Aaron on board to assist Charlotte part time in the wardrobe department, and part time as the stage manager, working for director Simon Dyer. The new actors and actresses have arrived, and much to Charlotte's dismay, the actor who will be portraying Romeo's father in the staging of "Romeo and Juliet" is her former lover, Brian Prentice, a man who had broken her heart and who was the ultimate reason she stayed behind in New York instead of returning to England with the RSC.

To make matters even worse, Brian is having an affair with the spoiled diva, Lauren Richmond, who is playing Juliet, and to top that off his wife Lady Deborah is along for the trip. It's no wonder Brian has become a heavy drinker.

In a twist of fate, young Lauren is poisoned and nearly dies, and then shortly thereafter is stabbed to death! The police suspect Aaron because he has motive, means and opportunity, but he can't be a killer - Charlotte simply won't believe it, so she sets out to try to clear his name before he is charged or arrested. Will she be able to solve the crime to save Aaron? Or will her meddling cost her the romantic relationship she has with Walkers Ridge Chief of Police Ray Nicholson?

Untimely Death is a traditional cozy with a small town setting and a small enough cast of characters that it is easy enough to keep track of who is who and what their role in the mystery may be. The author, Elizabeth J Duncan, has, however, provided enough red herrings that it isn't too easy for the reader to solve the crime. The story is told in a calm and forthright manner, making it a book that one can put down and pick up as time allows without having to keep track of a million little details. It is a pleasant, unassuming, yet entertaining and charming story, and is the first in a new series.

If you like a cozy mystery reminiscent of one set in the Cotswolds but set in the Catskills, with a touch of the British flair on the American scene, you'll enjoy Untimely Death. I will look forward to the next installment in the series.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Untimely Death #1 [review 1] [review 2]
Ill Met by Murder #2
Much Ado About Murder #3


Reviewer Notes: Elizabeth J Duncan also writes the Penny Brannigan Mystery Series

Reviewed 2015