Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan – Book Review

Untimely Death by Elizabeth J Duncan

Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan is a 2015 Crooked Lane publication.

Source: audio book obtained through Overdrive

A Catskills resort’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes a wickedly ironic turn when the leading lady, Lauren Richmond, is first poisoned and then stabbed. Who would extinguish the life of such a beautiful young thespian? Who wouldn’t? Seems like just about everyone had a motive to pull the ropes on her final curtain call.

At the center of this Shakespearian tragedy is Charlotte Fairfax, formerly the costume mistress of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Upstate New York is a long way from the royal stage, but Charlotte is always the queen of her domain. As this small production’s costume designer, she has stitched her way into everyone’s lives, learning more than anyone could possibly imagine about the rise and fall of Lauren Richmond. But curiosity killed the cat. And it might well kill the costume designer.

Witty and wise work, Untimely Death, the first in Elizabeth J. Duncan’s charming cozy series, is sure to delight.” – Goodreads

After reading Elizabeth Duncan’s series featuring Penny Brannigan, I felt sure I would love the Shakespeare in the Catskills mysteries, and luckily, I wasn’t disappointed. The cozy factor was there without being too cliche so the novel had a bit more sophistication than a typical cozy mystery.

The setting is quite lovely and really draws the reader in. I’m not sure I’ve read a series set in the Catskills before, so I researched a little and now would love to be ableto visit the area. The characters are charming and well developed, especially Charlotte. The back story for the Charlotte, the protagonist, was detailed and realistic and the fact that she’s a Brit living in America was a nice change of pace as it’s usually the other way around. I loved the relationship between her and her assistant, Aaron, as they make a great sleuthing team that I look forward to reading more from in the rest of the series.

I was unfamiliar with anything to do with the theater, which is largely featured in this novel. Unlike some other cozy mysteries that force feed their theme to the reader, this was quite a bit more subtle. Theater and costuming was a large part of the novel, but the references to them were woven neatly into the story so they feel organic instead of forced.

As for the audio book version that I listened to on Overdrive, it was one of the better narrations I have heard. Sarah Nichols, the voice behind the novel, was wonderful to listen to. I’ve already added the second in the series to my Overdrive wish list in audio books form and am anxiously awaiting it.

You can read more of my book recommendations in my Cozy Mystery category here on Bookish Hooker. If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book for your own shelves you can find a copy at the following retailer.

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