Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Review: The Phantom of Oz by Cindy Brown (Ivy Meadows #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, creative mystery, lots of fun
Cons: All cons swept away to Oz
The Bottom Line:
Friend in town, trouble
At a troubled production
Delightful story

Go Off to Meet This Phantom

One thing I have come to appreciate about the Ivy Meadows Mysteries is the strange mashups that actress Ivy finds herself involved in.  As you can guess from the title of book five in the series, The Phantom of Oz, we are getting elements of The Wizard of Oz and The Phantom of the Opera in this book, and the result is pure fun.

It’s been a couple of books since we’ve seen much of Ivy’s friend Candy.  Candy is a fellow actress who moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles in order to pursue her career.  Ivy is surprised when Candy calls her out of the blue to announce that she is back in Phoenix because she’s part of the national tour for The Wizard of OZpera, a take on The Wizard of Oz set in space.  Candy wants to get together, and the first time that works is that night during notes for the cast.

As soon as Ivy sees Candy, she is concerned for her friend.  Candy has lost a lot of weight, and doesn’t look healthy, but Candy just laughs it off.  Then there is an accident before the cast notes can even begin.  With rumors of a haunted theater and more accidents, Ivy begins to wonder what is going on with Candy’s tour.  Can she figure it out and help her friend?

Now if you are thinking this doesn’t sound like a typical mystery, you’d be completely correct.  Yes, there is a murder, but it happens rather late in the book.  But please don’t let that keep you from picking up this book.  There is plenty of keep your interest before that happens.  I’ve just scratched the surface of what is happening in this book.

After all, I haven’t really discussed The Phantom of the Opera angle to the story.  There are tunnels below the theater, and Ivy winds up exploring those over the course of the book.  I’m sure if I knew that story better, I’d see even more parallels between it and the story here.

A new cast in a play means a new cast of characters for Ivy to meet and us to get to know.  I found them fun as always.  Some were stronger than others, but that is a reflection of how much page time they had.

And I love how Ivy and her relationships are progressing.  While this is a comedic novel, the characters are not shallow, and Ivy struggles with some very real issues before we reach the climax.  Obviously, there are some discussions about body image, but they take some different directions, which I appreciated.  The growth we see in Ivy is outstanding.

But this isn’t to take away from the humor.  As always, the play is a riot, and Ivy finds herself in some pretty strange circumstances before everything is over.

And yes, everything does come together for a fantastic climax that wraps things up.

I do want to issue a language warning.  There are more four-letter words than in the typical cozies I read, but this is nothing new to the series, and if you’ve read the others, you know exactly what to expect here.

I started this series because I love live theater, and I still appreciate that about the books.  But I’ve kept reading them because they are fantastic mysteries.  The Phantom of Oz is another great entry that will leave fans with a ghost of a smile on their face.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

I'm reviewing this book as part of a blog tour.  Check out the rest of the stops.

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  1. Thanks, Mark! So glad you like Ivy!

  2. I have this series on my TBR. It looks so fun and I love humor mixed into my cozy - especially if the mystery is really good.