*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: To prove her friend’s innocence, she’s willing to face death.
By 1875, Lillian Nolan believes she has successfully shut off any connection to the spirit world. That winter she is thrilled when she wins the role of Ophelia in a new production of Hamlet in her home town of Chicago. Everything changes when the body of the managing director is found sprawled across the steps of the dress circle and all the investors’ money is missing. Lillian fears, once again, her career is over before it begins.
After her dearest friend is arrested for murder, Lillian commits herself to discovering the truth. Her search is complicated by a strange man who is following her, the romantic overtures of her co-star, and a reunion with an old nemesis. But nothing is what it seems. What she does find puts a member of her own family at risk and leads to the unmasking of the killer with lethal consequences for herself.
Sharp eyes will spot I missed my original blog tour date. Unfortunately this was due to a medical emergency, but now that I am on the mend I am happy to be able to catch up and share my thoughts on this second installment in the Backstage Mystery series.
The story here does stand alone, with any necessary backstory filled in as the plot requires, but I would personally recommend reading the series in order for a full picture of Lillian’s life.
Lillian is the main character and direct narrative voice as she recounts her youthful adventures in memoir form in her elder years. This slightly lessens the tension of any peril she faces during the course of the plots, but pays off in the dual perspectives of her ‘then-and-now’ commentary on the events she describes.
The murder mystery here is clever and easy-to-follow, with just the right number of suspects to keep it interesting without confusing matters. Elizabeth Ireland has varied the paranormal element of the plot by introducing the concept of spirit guides and subconscious interplay between the spirit and material worlds; adding to the direct ghost hauntings and possessions she has already established.
I particularly loved in this book how the author handled the sub-plot of Lillian’s romantic life. Her sexual nature and surrounding emotions are explored with honesty and sensitivity, and her subsequent behaviour is proud and dignified.
As usual with this series there is a fascinating insight into the backstage world of rehearsals, props and understudies. I would definitely recommend these stories to anyone who likes a traditional murder mystery with some less traditional ghostly assistance / hindrance, and lashings of theatrical flair!
“Mr. Kincaid? Mr. Kincaid, sir? The play is over.”
Phillip appeared to ignore him. The usher shook his shoulder much harder and suddenly Phillip slid out of his chair and his body sprawled onto the steps in the aisle.
The usher leaned in to take a good look at Phillip, gave a muffled scream, turned, and ran for the exit.
There was a moment of complete and utter silence in the empty theatre. And then, Phillip rose out of his body, stood, and looked at the corpse on the floor. Then he heard a male voice speak from behind him.
“Bit of a shock at first, isn’t it?”
– Elizabeth Ireland, Foul Deeds Will Rise
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour (poster below) for more great content and reviews, and pop back here on 5th June to find out my thoughts on Book 3 in this series!