The best mysteries in the theatre world

The Books I Picked & Why

Dancers in Mourning

By Margery Allingham

Book cover of Dancers in Mourning

Why 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.


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Death of a Hollow Man: Inspector Barnaby #2

By Caroline Graham

Book cover of Death of a Hollow Man: Inspector Barnaby #2

Why 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.


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The Plain Old Man

By Charlotte MacLeod

Book cover of The Plain Old Man

Why 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.


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Light Thickens

By Ngaio Marsh

Book cover of Light Thickens

Why 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. 


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

By Robert Lee Hall

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

Why 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.


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