Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun, good characters, good mystery
Cons: Pacing at the beginning is slow due to set up
The Bottom Line:
New job, dead body
Plus ghost keep Nora hopping
In this fun debut
First Days are Murder
With my love of movies, I was immediately interested in the Movie Palace Mysteries, set in a theater that shows exclusively classic movies in San Francisco. I almost passed on the debut, Murder at the Palace, but it called to me too loudly to ignore, so I picked it up. I’m glad I did.
When Nora Paige’s movie star husband is caught having an affair with a co-star, she decides it is time to start over. Fortunately, Nora’s friend Robbie needs someone to manage the Palace Theater up in San Francisco. Given Nora’s love of old movies, she jumps at the chance. Plus, starting over in a new city sounds good.
However, Nora’s first day doesn’t go as planned. She’s barely met the staff when she finds a dead body in the backup ice maker in the basement. Naturally, she doesn’t recognize the victim, but none of the staff know who he is either. Could his murder be tied to the death of the previous manager? And, if that shock weren’t enough, Nora starts to see a hallucination that just might be the ghost of an usherette named Trixie from the 1930’s. Is Nora going crazy? Can she figure out what is going on?
So, I’m sure you can guess why I almost passed on this book – I rarely do paranormal cozies. However, there are exceptions to every rule in my life, and I am certainly glad I let this book be one of them. Yes, Trixie is a ghost. No, I don’t believe in ghosts. However, this book wouldn’t be the same without her in it. She is her own character and adds some fun and charm that the book would be missing otherwise.
Of course, her presence also slows down the book in the beginning. Yes, we get the initial body early, but when Nora begins to see Trixie, her trying to figure out if Trixie is real or not drives the book for a while, and the mystery is a little slow to get going as a result. However, the further along we get, the more things really take off, and I got caught up in a great mystery. We get some interesting twists and surprises before Nora pieces it all together.
And the cast of characters is wonderful. Nora may be a bit shaky in her personal life with so much upheaval, but she is a strong lead and it is easy to fall in love with her. The rest of the staff at the theater is a hoot. I am looking forward to seeing more of them as the series progresses (although I would like to know how some of them could go to school and do their jobs).
Those who love old movies will feel right at home in this theater and with these characters. There are some fun discussions and plenty of references to the classics. I have heard of most of the movies talked about although I must admit I haven’t seen many of them. That is something I want to remedy now. Scattered throughout the book are excerpts from a blog that talk a bit more about some of the films being mentioned, and they are lots of fun.
If you haven’t noticed by how often I’ve repeated it, I found this debut fun. I will definitely be buying a ticket for the new book. Anyone looking for a promising new series will want to pick up Murder at the Palace.