Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Book Review: Deadly Director’s Cut by Vicki Delany (Catskill Summer Resort Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, plot, setting
Cons: A niggle with the set up for the climax
The Bottom Line:
A movie filming
Brings murder to the resort
Well done mystery

The Director Is Cut Out of the Picture

I’ve often commented how popular the Hollywood comes to town storyline is, especially in cozy mysteries.  It appeals to those of us who are fascinated with the entertainment industry (and I certainly count myself among them), and it automatically creates a bunch of suspects and a victim for the author to play around with.  Author Vicki Delany uses it to great effect in Deadly Director’s Cut, the second in her Catskill Summer Resort Mystery series.

If you’ve missed this series, it features Elizabeth Grady.  She is helping her mother run Haggerman’s Catskills Resort, which her mother, a famous dancer, inherited from a fan.  And it’s set in the 1950’s.

As this story opens, Hollywood has come to the area as director Elias Theropodous has decided to use the area as a backdrop for some of the scenes in his new movie, Catskill Dreams.  Much of the cast is staying at a neighboring resort, but they are actually filming at Haggerman’s.  While Elizabeth is happy with the money they are earning, she is less than thrilled with the demands that Elias is making and the disruption to the smooth running of the resort.

One night, the cast and crew have a private dinner at the resort followed by mixing with the rest of the guests for some dancing.  As Elias is leaving that night, he starts to feel sick only to die later at the hospital.  The doctor is quick to suggest that it was poison.  With her resort’s reputation on the line, can Elizabeth figure out what really happened?  Or will the movie be shut down, scattering the best suspects before the case can be resolved?

As I hinted in the opening, authors love returning to the Hollywood comes to town storyline because it works.  This is another great example of that.  The story is strong with plenty of twists and action to keep us engaged.  In fact, a time or two I kept reading just a little further because some twist caught me by surprise.  When we reached the end, the result was perfectly logical, and the climax was a lot of fun.  Having said that, there is a continuity error in the climax with what came before.  It’s minor, doesn’t impact the solution, and I didn’t think about it until a couple of days later myself.

Sometimes, when you have such a strong influx of new characters like this, the series characters can take a backseat.  That isn’t the case here.  Several series regulars get strong sub-plots that feel like natural outgrowth of what we saw in the first book in the series.  That isn’t to say the Hollywood characters aren’t strong.  Everyone mixes well in this book.

I always enjoy books in resort or vacation settings, and this is no exception.  While Elizabeth, as our guide, is more focused on the running of the resort than I’d be as a guest, it is still easy to picture what a vacation here would be like.  And, I’ve got to say, I’m ready to book some time there.  As I was reading, I could feel the summer heat.  Okay, so it might have helped that I was reading it during a Southern California heat wave, but it still felt very real.

The 1950’s setting is just that, a setting.  There aren’t any major historical events involved in the story.  Yet it infuses every chapter of the book.  I felt like I was back in time as I was reading.

And Catskill Dreams?  I know this is a completely fictional movie, but I really would like to watch it and see just how things turned out for the characters in the film.

I got lost in the pages of Deadly Director’s Cut.  If you are looking for a fun historical cozy, look no further than this book.


  1. I love that time period, nice review, Mark,

  2. I would watch the movie too! Interestingly enough I read this when it first came out and remember very little about the mystery itself but can easily remember the characters and the setting and so many of the non-mystery scenes! I'm really looking forward to seeing where this series goes. Great review!

  3. That setting made me instantly think of Dirty Dancing!

    Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge


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