Wednesday, November 11, 2015

ARC Review: Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Untimely Death
Author: Elizabeth J. Duncan
Series: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (November 10, 2015)

Description: 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.

Witty and wise work, Untimely Death, the first in Elizabeth J. Duncan’s charming cozy series, is sure to delight.

My Thoughts: The summer theater season is starting at Jacobs Grand Hotel in the Catskills. Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has been living and working there for ten years. This year she has a new apprentice named Aaron who is also the nephew of the owner of the hotel. The case includes an ambitious young actress named Lauren Richmond and an aging, has-been actor named Brian Prentice who has arrived along with his aristocratic wife, Lady Deborah. Aaron knows Lauren from high school when she was one of the mean girls who hounded his young cousin to suicide. And Charlotte knows Brian because they dated until he threw her over for Lady Deborah.

When Lauren suffers an overdose and then is stabbed while waiting to perform the balcony scene in Romeo & Juliet, Charlotte becomes involved in investigating the case along with her boyfriend Ray Nicholson who is the Chief of Police. The police are looking at Aaron as the key suspect but Charlotte wants to look at lot more. 

This is definitely a cozy mystery with lovely descriptions of the Catskills and lots of interactions with Charlotte and her Corgi Rupert. Charlotte is devoted to her craft and loves to pass on tidbits of design to her intern Aaron while dropping the names of famous people she has worked with but Aaron has never heard of.

This was an entertaining mystery.

Favorite Quote:
"But suicide attempts aren't always what they seem," Ray said. "Sometimes people do it to attract attention or to send a message to someone. You know—'if you break up with me, I'll kill myself, and you'll be sorry.'"
I got this eARC via NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.


  1. This sounds like an interesting read! I love mysteries that involve plays and I love the setting!

  2. I've had my eye on this for a while now. I'm glad to hear it's entertaining.


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