The best mysteries in the theatre world

Who am I?

I grew up in New York City, practically within walking distance of the Broadway theatre district. My first show was the original production of 1776. Everything grabbed my attention: Ian McKellan in Amadeus, Patrick Stewart in Macbeth, Richard Dreyfuss in Julius Caesar, and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. In high school, I was an eager, if not especially talented, member of the theatre club. I became curious about the whole theatre scene, and what could be a better place for a mystery, where actors, directors, and scene designers are already creating an alternate world.


I wrote...

Death at the Emerald

By R. J. Koreto,

Book cover of Death at the Emerald

What is my book about?

Helen was the most beautiful actress in England, but she mysteriously vanished 30 years ago. An elderly friend commissions Lady France Folkes to find her. Taking on the role of Lady Sherlock, with her loyal maid Mallow as her Watson, Frances immerses herself in the glamorous world of Edwardian theater and London’s latest craze—motion pictures.

As Frances and Mallow make their way through the theaters, they meet colorful figures such as George Bernard Shaw and King Edward VII. Clues lead them to a stunning discovery at a midnight exhumation of a grave with a puzzling epitaph. But the killer remains undeterred and Frances must use all her wits—and her new jiu-jitsu skills—to save herself and find the entrancing Helen.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dancers in Mourning

R. J. Koreto Why did I love this book?

Few authors could delver more perfectly into characters than Allingham. Although she created excellent puzzles, the beauty of her books is in the incisive portrayals. Here, she does a magnificent job of stripping away the glamour and finding the pride and jealousy behind the lively theater world. And it's impossible not to be engaged by the shrewd and mysterious sleuth, Albert Campion.

By Margery Allingham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dancers in Mourning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When song-and-dance star Jimmy Sutane falls victim to a string of malicious practical jokes, there's only one man who can get to the bottom of the apparent vendetta against the music hall darling - Albert Campion.
Soon, however, the backstage pranks escalate and an ageing starlet is killed.
Under pressure to uncover the culprit and plagued by his growing feelings for Sutane's wife, Campion finds himself uncomfortably embroiled in an investigation which tests his ingenuity and integrity to the limit.


"Allingham's work is always of the first rank." (New York Times)
"The real queen of crime." (Guardian)
"Allingham captures her…


Book cover of Death of a Hollow Man

R. J. Koreto Why did I love this book?

Graham's village mysteries are dark reflections of the villages found in Agatha Christie, and she is especially good at looking under the rocks and finding what's crawling behind the idyllic villages. Chief Inspector Barnaby is the perfect British sleuth, both tough and intelligent. She does a terrific job of finding the problems that drive us in everyday lives, in this case, the secret passions that hide at an amateur production.

By Caroline Graham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death of a Hollow Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Actors do love their dramas, and the members of the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society are no exception. Passionate love scenes, jealous rages'they're better than a paycheck (not that anyone one in this production of Amadeus is getting one). But even the most theatrically minded must admit that murdering the leading man in full view of the audience is a bit over the top. Luckily, Inspector Tom Barnaby is in that audience, and he's just the man to find the killer. With so many dramas playing out, there's no shortage of suspects, including secret lovers and jealous understudies galore.


Book cover of The Plain Old Man

R. J. Koreto Why did I love this book?

MacLeod gives us one of the most delightful and intriguing couples with art investigators Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. Although the plots are fun, with a kind of loopy charm, the real joy is the delightful characters, mostly from the widespread and eccentric Kelling clan. The Kellings are in fine form backstage of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. Every character here is indelible.

By Charlotte MacLeod,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Plain Old Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Murder upstages a Kelling family theatrical production—and Boston’s art sleuths are on the case. “The screwball mystery is Charlotte MacLeod’s cup of tea” (Chicago Tribune).
 Producing a Gilbert & Sullivan opera requires a special kind of madness, and the Kelling family is large enough and peculiar enough to undertake an entire company by themselves. For years now, Sarah Kelling’s Aunt Emma has supervised these annual productions—from The Pirates of Penzance to The Mikado—and this year she has invited her cast of relatives to rehearse The Sorcerer in her stately mansion. The show is nearly ready when a team of burglars…


Book cover of Light Thickens

R. J. Koreto Why did I love this book?

Marsh was one of the great mystery novelists, but her great love was theatre, and in this book, they come together. Few mysteries delve so deeply into the details of the theatre world. In this case, the play is Macbeth, and the murders behind the scenes eerily echo the violent play itself. The scene and setting are so gripping that it's impossible to stop reading and the ending is both surprising and satisfying. 

By Ngaio Marsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light Thickens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bad news: This is the last in Ngaio Marsh's marvelous Inspector Alleyn" series. The good: It's one of her very best. The secret to Light Thickens' success may lie in its combination of some of Marsh's greatest passions, including her native New Zealand -in the person of, unusually, a Maori character - and the theater. Indeed, the plot centers on a production of...well, let's skirt disaster by calling it the Scottish play," a play that Dame Ngaio produced and directed several times. Among theater folk, the Scottish play is considered unlucky, so much so that tradition requires anyone who…


Book cover of Murder at Drury Lane: Further Adventures of the American Agent in London

R. J. Koreto Why did I love this book?

Historical setting is the main draw here. Benjamin Franklin is in 1750s London, and the interest comes from the history. Franklin becomes involved in the lively theater scene of the era, and we get to see the sage's particular genius at work. The great joy here comes from all the period details and the delightful descriptions of the theatre world in Georgian England.

By Robert Lee Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder at Drury Lane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a heckler at the Drury Lane Theatre topples to his death, Ben Franklin--in the Pennsylvania colony on business--probes into the theater's backstage intrigue.


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Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

By Helena P. Schrader,

Book cover of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

New book alert!

Who am I?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

What is my book about?

It is 1948 in Berlin. The economy is broken, the currency worthless, and the Russian bear is preparing to swallow its next victim. In the ruins of Hitler's capital, former RAF officers and a woman pilot start an air ambulance company that offers a glimmer of hope. Yet when a Soviet fighter brings down a British airliner, Berlin becomes a flashpoint. The world teeters on the brink of World War Three.

Award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader tells the backstory of the Berlin Airlift in Cold Peace, the first book of the Bridge to Tomorrow series.

Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

By Helena P. Schrader,


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