Untimely Death

A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery, #1

Elizabeth J. Duncan drew me into her story about Charlotte, a British costume mistress of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, who moved to a hotel in the Catskills in the USA after her affair with an actor went sour. I liked the fact that the Charlotte and the hero of this story, Ray, had already established a relationship prior to the beginning in this story. I also liked that the background setting was of a hotel with an indoor theater but I wish it was fleshed out more with descriptive language. Another thing that stops this book from getting a 5 star review is the books slow pacing which destroyed the tension in this cozy mystery.

First of all, unlike several other cozy mysteries series the relationship between Charlotte and Ray was already going on between them. They have been dating for a while when this book starts up. Ray is also the sheriff of the small town that has the hotel where Charlotte works and lives. They get along pretty well in this story, most of time, even when Charlotte does something stupid in this story.

Next, I like the setting of this book which takes place at a hotel in the Catskills, New York. We are told that they created a small theater in the hotel to draw people in so they would visit it. However, we are given very little description of the hotel such as how many floors it had or even if had an elevator. We are just told that Charlotte had a bungalow on the hotel’s grounds.

Last, the slow pacing is the problem that killed this story for me. It starts out slow and stayed slow till the end of it. The pacing also messes-up the tension of this story so by the time the resolution of the mystery came where we find out whom the killer was I did not care who it turned out to be or what their motive was for the murder at the end of the story.

The main question: What did Charlotte do that made her boyfriend, the sheriff, mad at her?


Book Blurb for Untimely Death

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.


Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2016 3.25