Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy to welcome back Jeanne Quigley to Escapes With Dollycas!
Thank you, Lori, for inviting me to introduce the new Veronica Walsh mystery to your readers. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
One of the joys of writing is the opportunity it gives me to weave my interests into a story. Years of watching soap operas inspired the creation of Veronica Walsh, the star of my cozy mystery series, and my childhood vacations in the Adirondacks led me to set the series in a fictional town in that beautiful region of New York.
The theater, particularly the work behind-the-scenes, is another longtime fascination of mine. I marvel at how a group of talented people, from the playwright, director, and choreographer to the set designers, musicians, and actors, can transform a bare stage into whatever world the playwright imagined and transport an audience to a 1905 Paris opera house, a bachelor pad in 1960s New York, or the eighteenth century for a fresh take on the life of a Founding Father.
Since I’m not “in” the theater, I incorporated its appeal into the plot of my new mystery, Cast for Murder. In the third cozy starring Veronica Walsh, I staged a production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Barton Community Theater, the amateur playhouse in Veronica’s hometown. I assembled a diverse cast of actors, appointed a production manager and stage manager, and handed the directorial reins to the theater’s founder, Gigi Swanson. I even built the actual theater and it took just one paragraph to do it.
Veronica, a retired soap opera actress, slides easily into the part of Coward’s wacky medium, Madame Arcati. Veronica doesn’t care that she’s performing alongside amateurs and won’t be paid (not even scale) for her part, or that she has to venture into the frigid winter nights of Barton to attend rehearsals. She’s out of retirement and acting again!
It’s all fabulous until the backstage drama begins after Veronica finds Gigi shot dead behind the theater. It doesn’t take long for Veronica to assume a second role she’s not as excited to play: amateur sleuth. She’s developed a skill for solving murders and has earned a fame for it she’d rather not have.
Gigi’s murder introduces Veronica to a whole new cast of characters, a lineup of murder suspects who don’t follow a script. Whitney, Gigi’s business partner, assumes the role of diva and plays it to the hilt. There’s Kenny, a former volunteer at the theater who would fit well in the cast of Twelve Angry Men. Julia is the perfect ingénue, all wide eyes, and batting eyelashes. But is it all an act, a guise put on to cover a little case of guilt? Finally, Gigi’s husband, Zach Townsend, is the perfect leading man: tall, dark, and handsome. Is he also a murderer?
Plus there’s a cameo by a real-life Madame Arcati. Does she have the psychic ability to help Veronica solve the murder, or is she only a good reference for Veronica to method act her way through her starring role?
The stage is set for a comic play turned into a murder mystery. Grab a front row seat and enjoy the show!
Thank you, Jeanne, for stopping by today!
Now here is my review of Cast for Murder.
Cast for Murder (Veronica Walsh Mystery)
3rd in Series
Setting – New York
Self Published (February 5, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages
Kindle ASIN: B079MBKDDN
Former soap opera actress Veronica Walsh is recovering from her first holiday season in the retail world when she is pulled from retirement to star in a community production of Blithe Spirit. Delighted to play the part of a medium, Veronica must soon also assume the role of amateur sleuth when she finds the play’s director shot dead behind the theater.
Teaming with stage manager Sophie Morrissey, Veronica’s hunt for clues to the murder of Gigi Swanson leads her to a cast of colorful behind-the-scenes characters and a stunning Act Three finale. Will it be a triumph for Veronica, or will the curtain close on more than her career?
Veronica Walsh has been asked to come out of retirement to play the medium in a local community theater production. It sounds like fun so she accepts only to find the director has been murdered soon after rehearsals begin. She and Sophie, the stage manager, find the body and soon are cast in their own investigation. Will they make it to the final act or will they and the play close early?
Working in community theater the cast and crew get close. This group has been fortunate to find a family so interested in their productions that they have turned an old barn and a nearby building into a theater and office for the group. Of course, it helps that a member of the family is the director. That is until she ends up dead.
Ms. Quigley has created quite a cast of characters for this story. The Townsend family owns the Gold and Country Club. A converted barn on the property is used for not only theatre productions, but weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and other large parties. It sounds like a beautiful building. Gigi Swanson’s in-laws own the place and when she is murdered, her husband and his parents become murder suspects and so does Veronica and other members of the cast. These characters continue to evolve throughout the story as Veronica digs into them and their backgrounds as she tries to find the killer.
The mystery was so well plotted, it left me guessing right up to the end. I did like that Veronica reported back to the police anything she found out. This doesn’t happen often in this genre. Clues led them both on a very surprising path but Veronica found herself right in the line of fire.
The flow of the story had a slow build as suspects were eliminated but the tension took hold as the real killer was revealed. Someone I had ruled out earlier. Nicely played, Ms. Quigley.
The author has penned an excellent mystery with just a touch of romance. Her relationship with Mark is moving at a nice pace.
For me, a “perfect escape”.
This book can be read on its own but it’s more fun if you get to know Veronica from the beginning.
About the Author
Jeanne Quigley grew up reading mysteries, watching soap operas, and vacationing in the Adirondacks, never imagining these pleasures would be the inspiration for her Veronica Walsh cozy mysteries (All Things Murder; Murder, by George; Cast for Murder). Unlike the fictional Veronica, Jeanne has never been a soap opera star, but she has worked in the music industry and for an education publisher. She lives in Rockland County, New York and is a member of the Sisters in Crime. Readers can visit Jeanne at jeannequigley.wordpress.com.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”