Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Audition for Murder (Maggie Ryan, 1967) (Maggie Ryan and Nick O'Connor, #1)
Audition for Murder (Maggie Ryan, 1967) by P.M. Carlson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I especially loved about P.M. Carlson's AUDITION FOR MURDER is that she really knows her theater and she really knows her Shakespeare!

That being said I'd have to agree with one reviewer who wrote that people who understand theater and have been exposed to Shakespeare's Hamlet would love this mystery while others would not enjoy it at all.

The author's insightful descriptions of how directors and actors approach a part would probably strike the general mystery reader as obtuse and unnecessary. It drew me in and made the story special.

Maggie Ryan, a student who is running lights for a production of Hamlet, is an extraordinary sleuth. A gymnast and math major, she impresses from her first attention-drawing entrance. Setting the story on a college campus in the 1960s of Viet Nam protests is clever too. It allows for a clearly defined group of suspects, all well-drawn by the author.

Married professional actors Nick and Lisette, with problems of their own, sign on to spend a semester as artists-in-residence at a small upstate college. But someone apparently isn't happy with Lisette playing Ophelia and strange and sometimes dangerous things start to happen.

Besides beautiful use of language, I look for inventiveness and surprise in books and love those the best. P.M. Carlson has managed to do both things while writing quotable sentences!

Here are a couple of quotes that caught my fancy.

"Excellence is often unwelcome and difficult to forgive."

And on acting:

"The perfect detail, the instant that sends shivers down your spine...Those performances when somehow for an instant or two we connect with the universal. With eternity. When it happens, if it happens, it's worth any amount of time. It's worth your whole life."

Unfortunately there is only one other Maggie Ryan mystery. MURDER IS ACADEMIC. Both titles have just been reissued by The Mystery Company/​Crum Creek Press trade paperback and Ebook, 2012.

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