Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Audition for Murder by P.M. Carlson | Review

The Blurb

Actors Nick and Lisette O’Connor need a change. They leave New York City for a semester as artists-in-residence at a college upstate, where they take on the roles of Claudius and Ophelia, two of the professional leads in a campus production of Hamlet. Threats and accidents begin to follow Lisette, and Nick worries it might be more than just petty jealousy. Maggie Ryan, a student running lights for the show, helps investigate a mystery steeped in the turmoil of 1967 America.

Audition for Murder by P.M. Carlson
Series: A Maggie Ryan Mystery, #1
Genre: Mystery 
Publication Date: September 28, 2012; 2nd Ed.
Publisher: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press 
Paperback: 236 pages
ISBN-10: 1932325212
ISBN-13: 978-1932325218
e-Book File Size: 601 KB
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Powells | Goodreads

For more information about the author, the writing of the Maggie Ryan series,
and the series reissue, visit Crum Creek Press here.

The Review

I just read a really good book, y'all — Audition for Murder by P.M. Carlson, Book One in the eight-book Maggie Ryan Mystery series. Let me tell you why.

I really enjoyed the setting — an upstate New York college campus in 1967 — and the combination of history with the mystery. For example, the professors are keenly aware that they "can't really fail anyone anymore, for fear that your mark is the one that will send him to Vietnam." 

Author P.M. Carlson has included an actual historical event from 1967 for her characters to participate in. Some protesters from the campus have joined "a hundred thousand other people in New York City for the peace march. The vast crowd in Central Park was old and young, black and white, blue-jeaned and business-suited." [For more about the 4/15/1967 march, visit here, here, and here.]

I also really enjoyed reading about Hamlet — the actors as they rehearse, the "techies" as they construct everything, when everything comes together in the performances, and how everyone pitches in when... oops, almost spilled a spoiler. 

I wasn't very familiar with Hamlet prior to reading Audition for Murder, but that didn't diminish my understanding or pleasure in the book. (Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet are the extent of the Shakespeare I've read and seen.If you have ever read, seen, or performed in Hamlet, I think you'll love Audition for Murder even more than I do.  

As you might imagine, with the cast and crew of a Hamlet production included as characters, there are a lot of people in Audition for Murder. Of the main characters, Lisette and Rob are complicated yet engaging. The other main characters are Nick and Ellen, from whose alternating POVs the story is told, and Maggie; the three are relatable and easy to like. All five are well-written and believable, and have some fun scenes together. Two of my favorites are a scene in the French restaurant (with a French chef but fake-French waiters, who are flummoxed by the much better fake-French performances of the five) and a laundromat scene (where they do song parodies, accompanied by guitar, violin,and flute, with rhythms provided by carefully synchronized washing machines). 

The mystery is both intriguing and plausible in Audition for Murder. As I was reading, I noticed several likely but incorrect suspects; I was surprised by whodunit. The ending is poignant and satisfying. I plan to continue the series, so I can find out what happens next to Maggie. 

I recommend Audition for Murder to all traditional mystery fans, especially those who are also actors, theatre buffs, and fans of Hamlet and Shakespeare. I really enjoyed Audition for Murder by P.M. Carlson, and hereby grant it Four Kitties! 
Four out of five kitties
Note:  I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of Audition for Murder.  
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

You can find a giveaway and an excerpt
from Audition for Murder on my blog for August 1. 

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