Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, Much Ado About Nothing. The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright.
Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way?
With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.
I am lucky to say that Elizabeth J. Duncan has written a little Guest Post for my blog, inspired on my adopted country, Ireland, and focused with the mysterious cemeteries. Enjoy!
Cemeteries are for the living, too
For almost 200 years Dubliners have been laid to rest in Glasnevin (Prospect) Cemetery, a vast burial ground in the city’s north end. Many of Ireland’s political and revolutionary heroes are buried here, along with artists, poets, writers, actors, and a million or so other, more ordinary, souls. One of the highest-rated visitor attractions in Dublin, the cemetery holds guided tours, provides assistance to those researching their ancestry, and has a museum, café, gift shop, and even its own flower shop. All
in all, it’s quite a lively place.
I recently visited Glasnevin, and as an author of traditional murder mysteries, I started thinking about the role cemeteries play in my writing life, and the lives of my characters.
Cemeteries are wonderful places to source authentic sounding names. Wander up and down the rows of graves, reading the names on the tombstones, and you’re bound to come across a name that resonates with you. One of the characters in my Shakespeare in the Catskills series is named after a woman whose name I spotted on a grave in a small, tidy, upstate New York cemetery. When I came upon the name Mattie Lane on a grave marker, I knew instantly this person’s name belonged in the
book I was writing at the time, Untimely Death, first in the Shakespeare in the Catskills series. So although I know nothing about who Mattie Lane was in life, she lives on as the recurring character of a young actress.
And did you know there’s a difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? A cemetery is a specifically designated burial place, purpose built, if you like, and a graveyard refers to a burial ground within a churchyard.
In my other mystery series, set in North Wales and featuring amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan, the graveyard of picturesque St. Gwrst’s Church on the bank of the River Conwy, has figured prominently. Here, in the graveyard’s fictitious version, an abused, neglected dog was rescued by the rector’s wife, and a treasure buried before World War 1 was found using a map drawn by a child before World War 1. And occasionally, characters eat their lunch there, just as I do in real life. A friend and I love munching on our sandwiches seated side by side on a wooden bench situated in
the graveyard, facing the fast moving, sparkling river, with a view to a picturesque tea house across the river and the dark, wooded hills beyond.
And of course, cemeteries are filled with inspiration for a mystery author because below every grave marker lies a life story. Sometimes the dates and places spark creativity … Why did this person die so young? And so far from home? And then as the writer’s imagination takes over, a plot begins to emerge and as the characters introduce themselves, ideas for a novel begin to emerge.
If you’re interested in cemeteries, and who’s buried where, and if you haven’t discovered www.findagrave.com, check it out!
To learn more about Glasnevin Cemetery, you can view a DVD called One Million Dubliners.
Interesting, don't you think? Good luck in the Giveaway! ;)
Labels: 2017, Blog Tour, Book, Cozy Mysteries, Great Escapes