The glamour of showbusiness provides the backdrop to Murder at the Playhouse, the third book in the Kitty Underhay series. An actress wanting her big break is found dead on a golf course and Kitty’s love interest Captain Matthew Bryant is the prime suspect. Can she clear his name…?
Helena Dixon’s lead characters have not really spoken since their argument at the end of the last book. However, when Kitty discovers that Matthew has been wrongly accused of murder she springs to his defence. The police’s case against him is circumstantial as he was the last person to admit to seeing the victim alive. But when another body is found, Matthew has a definite alibi. Together they set about finding alternative suspects and Kitty volunteers at the playhouse for a charity event involving all of the characters with a motive.
Kitty and Matthew’s romance continues to simmer during Murder at the Playhouse. The introduction of his parents provides an extra complication and he finally reveals to Kitty the loss of his daughter (she was already aware of the death of his wife). The emotional connection between the two lead characters is strengthened and I hope their relationship continues to develop.
The ongoing family mystery of Kitty’s mother’s disappearance continues to produce a subplot of investigation and leaves more revelations anticipated for the next book (I hope there is one!)
As with the two previous books, I enjoyed the historical details of the 1930s and the social and class distinctions which affect the lives of the characters. This was an enjoyable traditional murder mystery with no violence or graphic detail. Like Agatha Christie novels, the focus of the plot is on revealing the motives through unofficial interrogation and secret observation.
The scene is set for murder… and Kitty Underhay’s partner has been cast as the killer.
Late Summer, 1933. After a quarrel with too-plucky-for-her-own-good amateur sleuth Kitty Underhay, dashing ex-army captain Matthew Bryant is nursing his wounds, and a tumbler of brandy, when there’s a heavy knock at the door and he finds himself arrested for murder. The body of aspiring actress Pearl Bright has been found, strangled with one of Matt’s own bootlaces, and the evidence seems to be stacked against him.
The local constabulary might have locked Matt up, but before they can throw away the key, Kitty hears the news and hies to his aid, determined to prove his innocence. And when her investigations lead her to the home of retired theatre impresario Stanley Davenport, and the local amateur dramatics society, Kitty uncovers a web of deceit that stretches far beyond the stage make-up. But Kitty’s digging is bringing her to the attention of the killer. Without her partner in crime-fighting, can Kitty expose them and clear Matt’s name? Or will it be curtains for them both?
A gripping Golden Age cozy murder mystery, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss.
Nell Dixon was born and continues to live in the Black Country. Married to the same man for over thirty-five years she has three daughters, a cactus called Spike, a crazy cockapoo and a tank of tropical fish. She is allergic to adhesives, apples, tinsel and housework. Her addictions of choice are coffee and reality TV. She was winner of The Romance Prize in 2007 with her book Marrying Max, and winner of Love Story of the Year 2010 with her book, Animal Instincts. She also writes historical 1930’s set cozy crime as Helena Dixon.
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