Murder On Cue by Jane Dentinger (1983)

Murder On Cue 1983 book coverWhile shopping with my husband, I saw a sign on a book sale saying two hardbound books for Php 99.00. That’s equivalent to a little less than $2.00 USD. So I took the chance because my husband paid for it. One of the hardbound books is Murder On Cue, a 1983 novel by Jane Dentinger.

Jocelyn “Josh” O’Roarke is an aspiring actress who lands a role as an understudy to Harriet Weldon, a temperamental theater actress and married to producer Harold Tewes. But while Harriet is playing the role of Lindsay in Term of Trial, Josh has to contend with her bit role as a clerk of court.

At the rehearsals and the play’s initial run, the characters and main staff of the play show one degree of separation to each other. And because of these relationships, tension rises.

Harriet has¬†chronic leg pains that during their tour in Boston, Josh has to step in as Lindsay to save the show and recoup the critics’ comments. Kevin Kerr, the male lead, says that Josh fits the role much better than Harriet. The cast and crew agree. But during one rehearsal back in New York, Josh had a run-in with Harriet. Josh expects her pink slip for shouting at their lead star.

However, Harriet dies inside her dressing room. Everyone thinks it was an accident. But when Detective Phillip Gerrard starts investigating a murder, secrets start to unravel and the spotlight is on Josh.

But before everyone points an accusing finger at her, Josh decides to play the role of a sleuth. After all, everyone around Harriet — from Harriet’s family down to the stage manager — has a motive to murder, if given the right opportunity. Together, Josh and Phillip try to solve this murder case and arrest the real killer.

The closely-knit relationships between the characters make the mystery more solid. The novel was written in a traditional manner. The world of theater as the background is something new to me. However, the reveal reminds me of Hercule Poirot’s usual conference. Also, I find it a bit dragging because the staging took so long that Harriet’s death occurred on Chapter 13. What’s more, I was able to guess who the culprit is.