Murder Off Stage
by Mary Miley
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Pub Date 05 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 07 Sep 2023
New York, 1926. It’s not like Jessie Beckett goes around looking for murders to solve, but the vaudeville star turned movie script girl has a natural talent for it. After a lifetime on stage, she’s sensitive to details that other people miss.
So when leading theatre star Allen Crenshaw is shot live on stage during a performance of hit Broadway show Rules of Engagement – a horrified Jessie watching from the second row – she knows she has to act fast before Allen’s co-star, the beautiful Norah Rose, goes down for murder. After all, it was Norah who fired the fateful bullet . . . even if the shooting was all part of the show.
Jessie investigates those closest to Allen – the presence of her theater companion, the superstar Adele Astaire, opening doors wherever they go – and finds only enemies. With the suspects for the disliked actor so numerous, can she uncover the truth in time to save Norah – or will the killer silence her too?
Packed with real-life stars of the stage and screen, this page-turning romp through the boards and backstreets of Broadway is a perfect pick for readers who enjoy Jazz Age mysteries with intrepid female sleuths.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 21 members
This is book 5 of the Roaring Twenties Mystery series by author Mary Miley. It is the first of the series that I have read. The book is set in New York City in 1926. The main character is Jessie Beckett, a former child star in Vaudeville and now the assistant to famous Hollywood film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. She was in New York with her employers on business and in her free time reconnected with Vaudeville friends and current Broadway stars Adele and Fred Astaire.
The story begins when Jessie and Adele attend the latest Broadway hit only to witness from their second row seats the death of the lead actor, Allen Crenshaw. In a scene straight out of today’s headlines, the lead actress fires a gun that is supposed to be loaded with blanks and her co-star falls dead. Was it an accident or murder? Who substituted real bullets into the gun?
Jesse has a history of solving crimes so her employers allow her time off to aid the rookie police detective in his investigation, along with the eager help of Adele Astaire. The book is filled with real life personalities and locations from that period and the author has clearly done her homework.
The case is very engaging and an excellent mystery. While many people had the opportunity to switch the ammo, no one seems to have sufficient motive, plus why murder someone in such a public setting. This kept me guessing until the end. The historical details and Prohibition era time period add atmosphere and sense of place and the story provided a fascinating behind the scenes look at Broadway shows, Vaudeville, Burlesque and the silent movie industry.
Thanks to Severn House publishing and NetGalley for allowing me to review this book.
From the cover design and description, I thought this looked and sounded like something that I might enjoy.
This was a light, entertaining cosy mystery. I liked the protagonist, and the way she talked to the reader. I thought the characters had a glamorous air about them, and the book felt quite glamorous to read because of the references to Hollywood figures, which I liked.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy to review.
MURDER OFF STAGE by Mary Miley
I LOVED this book, and was sad to get to the (very satisfying) end. Maybe I just have to go back to the beginning and read it again. There’s just so much to savor: Broadway theater, the Algonquin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Fred and Adele Astaire, Queen Marie of Romania and her children, all involved in solving the on-stage murder of the leading man in a Pulitzer Award winning play . . . and all so well-written.
Jessie and friends can go places and get information the police can’t, and they all work with the police and other allies, some quite unexpected, to bring justice. Historical details add a sense of reality, like Prohibition’s twisted enforcement, including poisoning with wood alcohol or “smoke,” deadly and protested by doctors, enough to infuriate even now. There’s so much more I’d love to discuss, but I do not want spoilers in this review.
5th in the series, so if you like reading in order, start with THE IMPERSONATOR.
Pub. date is 9/5, so there’s time to read them all.
It is exciting to read about the Twenties. I like to read about the movie stars and any scandalous behavior they might have shown.In "Murder Off Stage" by Mary Miley an actor is shot two or three times on stage. There is no way to know who shot the actor on stage. Just think of all the people in the audience who heard the shooting gun. Whoever murdered him must have been in a calm rage. The mind might have been stimulated. Perhaps, he felt courageous. It just shows the shooter's thoughts are totally mixed up.
We can never read too many mysteries. The motives for murder are manifold. The audience might have quickly began to search their hearts for the smallest acts or the most daring acts. in their lives. Perhaps, the public did their soul searching much later. First, they must have gone into shock.
The meticulously researched historical elements blend smoothly with the fictional narrative making this a very enjoyable book. It is easy to read as the intriguing mystery slowly unfolds. I received this as an advance copy from the author via NetGalley and am leaving this review voluntarily.
This book was a very good book about the early days of broadway and the early days of Hollywood It was a Val so a good mystery
"Welcome to Broadway - and to an unthinkable crime! Former theater starlet turned amateur sleuth Jessie Beckett gets mixed up in murder when an on-stage shooting turns all too real.
New York, 1926. It's not like Jessie Beckett goes around looking for murders to solve, but the vaudeville star turned movie script girl has a natural talent for it. After a lifetime on stage, she's sensitive to details that other people miss.
So when leading theatre star Allen Crenshaw is shot live on stage during a performance of hit Broadway show Rules of Engagement - a horrified Jessie watching from the second row - she knows she has to act fast before Allen's co-star, the beautiful Norah Rose, goes down for murder. After all, it was Norah who fired the fateful bullet...even if the shooting was all part of the show.
Jessie investigates those closest to Allen - the presence of her theater companion, the superstar Adele Astaire, opening doors wherever they go - and finds only enemies. With the suspects for the disliked actor so numerous, can she uncover the truth in time to save Norah - or will the killer silence her too?
Packed with real-life stars of the stage and screen, this page-turning romp through the boards and backstreets of Broadway is a perfect pick for readers who enjoy Jazz Age mysteries with intrepid female sleuths."
With this cast of characters and that cover there's no way I'm not picking up this book.
It’s always a joy when a favourite author delivers yet another cracking read. And I really liked this slice of Jessie’s life. Not only were we treated to a nicely twisty plot with plenty of suspects – I appreciated that the perpetrator had strong reasons for wanting to commit the murder. And this time around, I was also impressed with the manner in which he offed his victim. Jessie had to spend plenty of time interviewing a number of people – and this time around, she isn’t in Hollywood. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks are in New York, so Jessie is accompanying them as their script girl. Though these days, we’d probably call her a Girl Friday…
The setting is always a strength with one of Miley’s adventures. She has the clothing, food and customs of the time nailed. But the biggest difference we are confronted with is that during this era, alcoholic drink is illegal and Prohibition is in full swing. We already know that the result of this disastrous decision is the rise and rise of organised crime in all the big cities as the gangs cash in on many people’s unwillingness to abide by the law. I also like how Miley weaves real people within her story. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks are here – but the star who attracted my attention is Jessie’s pal Adele Astaire, the sister of Fred. I loved Jessie’s description of this couple. Miley gives additional details in her fascinating extra notes at the back, mentioning that Fred’s glamorous sister was the one who first made it big, while Fred is creating her choreography and training her.
All in all, this is a thoroughly accomplished and entertaining addition to this series and highly recommended to fans of historical murder mystery adventures. While I obtained an arc of Murder Off Stage from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
This striking cover with the young lady and her vivid red lipstick caught my eye and then to be set in 1926 during the roaring twenties and a mystery made this a historical fiction not to be missed. It immediately held my attention with the heroine employed by the most popular actress in Hollywood who has brought her to New York City for a working holiday. Jessica, previously a vaudeville star, catches up with Adele Astaire and they attend a play. The play was stopped after the leading man was shot and killed by the leading lady instead of merely wounding him as the lines of the play dictated. Jessica is determined to assist the police as she has done in the past to determine if the actress was the murderer or are there other suspects who wanted the actor dead. Mary Miley has captured the essence of this timeframe with descriptions of places and people even including some royalty. Her notes about. the research is not to be missed. Thanks to NetGalley and Severn Publishing for an ARC; this is my honest review.
I discovered this is the 5th book in this series but it's to the other Mary Miley's mysteries I read: a detailed historical background, well developed characters and a solid mystery.
Can't wait to read the rest of the series
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Someone had the audacity to shoot Allen in the middle of the play! Norah, the actress who was meant to be firing blanks finds herself the subject of much scrutiny but she didn't do it. Jessie, with the able assistance of some of Broadway's finest (Adele Astaire!) works her way through the suspects to find the truth in this cozy set in the Roaring 20s. I liked the inclusion of real people (I found myself stopping to check periodically)=and it worked. I'd not read the earlier books but this was fine as a standalone. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.
Wow, so glad to have found this series! I have been reading/listening to historical mysteries for awhile and always looking for new authors!
What is exciting about this story is the real life characters interspersed with the fiction which makes it all the more realistic! Of course it also makes me do research on those characters although a lot have I have grown up with while watching old movies.
A death of an actor, by another ... yes it was suppose to be blanks in the gun, but somebody switched the ammo. Who could it be? A delightful journey in finding the real killer!
Mary Miley returns to The Roaring Twenties New York in Murder Off Stage. Jessie Beckett, former child vaudeville star and amateur sleuth, works for Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. While she is at the theater the lead actress shoots blanks at the male star, but the bullets are real and he dies, Jessie joins the New York detective
and her friend Adele Astaire to find whodunit. New York drama in the theatre and off Broadway. Great historical mystery.