Untimely Death was my last read for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril this year. I do enjoy this event. Thanks goes to the Estella Society for hosting this year.

Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. DuncanUntimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Series: Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery #1
Published by Crooked Lane Books on November 10, 2015
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
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A Catskills resort’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes a wickedly ironic turn when the leading lady, Lauren Richmond, is first poisoned and then stabbed. Who would extinguish the life of such a beautiful young thespian? Who wouldn’t? Seems like just about everyone had a motive to pull the ropes on her final curtain call.
At the center of this Shakespearian tragedy is Charlotte Fairfax, formerly the costume mistress of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Upstate New York is a long way from the royal stage, but Charlotte is always the queen of her domain. As this small production’s costume designer, she has stitched her way into everyone’s lives, learning more than anyone could possibly imagine about the rise and fall of Lauren Richmond. But curiosity killed the cat. And it might well kill the costume designer.

Untimely Death started out a little rough for me. Foreshadowing’s all well and good, but phrases like  “but this year was going to be different; changes were coming. She could feel it.” and, on the very next page, “And although she’d never been part of a real-life murder, that was about to change,” are a bit heavy-handed, especially for what is quite clearly a cozy murder mystery. Happily it improved.

There are certain settings I tend to enjoy, and behind the scene at a play is one of them. Charlotte, a talented costume, is our amateur sleuth who just so happens to be dating one of the local policemen. I liked her a lot. She just seemed like a good, nice person, who knows her job and the theater well. the other characters are well-developed, especially her assistant Aaron, and a few of the actors. There wasn’t really much gossip or petty jealousies in the cast though. Most of the actors are relatively fresh out of school and the one’s who know what they’re doing seem more helpful than not. There’s one affair, but no one is really betrayed by the infidelity. The hotel’s guests were not a part of this story; the focus was on the theater.

As a mystery is was okay. There was one big clue, and a couple of others that we were shown. It was kind of impossible to pick up on a couple of things though, as an American, but, thankfully, Charlotte is British, so could piece it together.

I felt the characters were a bit stronger than the plot. I’m looking forward to the next in the series. It’ll be interesting to see where the idea Charlotte puts together at the end of the book goes.

About Elizabeth J. Duncan

After graduating from Carleton University, Ottawa, with a BA in English, Elizabeth J. Duncan worked as a writer and editor for some of Canada’s largest newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and Hamilton Spectator.

The author of two traditional mystery series, Penny Brannigan set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer Charlotte Fairfax,
Elizabeth divides her time between Toronto, Canada and Llandudno, North Wales.


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