Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great plot, fun characters, dash of humor
Cons: A tad more language than a typical cozy
The Bottom Line:
Ivy does Shakespeare
Murder and mayhem follow
Great series debut
While the Scottish Play Might Be Cursed, This Debut Sure Isn’t
I love live theater, even participating in a couple of plays while in college. So as soon as I heard about the Ivy Meadows series, I knew I had to give it a try. Macdeath, the first in the series, lived up to my hopes.
Ivy Meadows is an actress living in the Phoenix area. She’s hoping that she will finally get her career going when she lands a part in a local production of Macbeth. Okay, so giving the classic a circus setting might be a bit strange, but some of her costars are well-respected Shakespeare actors, so she’s hoping it goes well.
Simon Black, one of her costars, is trying to quit drinking, and he asks Ivy to help keep him accountable while they are at the theater rehearsing. Disaster strikes on opening night when Ivy finds Simon dead in his dressing room during the second act. The police are quick to label it a tragic accident due to alcohol poisoning, but Ivy is certain they are wrong since she thinks Simon had stayed sober. Is she sharing the stage with a killer? How can she see behind the façade of her fellow actors to learn the truth?
I must confess, I’ve only seen or read a few of Shakespeare’s plays, and Macbeth is not one of them. But that gives me a chance to tell you that not being familiar with the play is no reason to skip this book. Yes, references and allusions are made to the play, but anything we need to know is explained to us.
The book gets off to a quick start, and the pace never lags. There are some nice twists and surprises before we reach a suspenseful conclusion that wraps everything up nicely.
The characters are wonderful. As you might expect with actors, a few of them are a little over the top, but I found it fun and completely believable in the context of the book. Since actors obviously go wherever the play is, I wonder how many of the characters we met in this book will become series regulars, but I look forward to finding out. A few, like members of Ivy’s family, are definitely going to be strong series regulars.
There is a wonderful sense of humor weaving its way through the book as well. Ivy’s first person narration made me laugh at times, while some of the events she found herself in were just as funny.
I should point out there is a tad more language than in the normal cozies I read, which is one reason it jumped out at me. It was believable, but keep that in mind when you pick up this book.
One thing I really appreciated is how Ivy’s backstory is handled. We are given hints early on, but we don’t get the full story until the second half. It’s important since it is reflected in her drive to solve the mystery, but we were not given the data dump that often slows down the pace early on in books.