Cover Image: The Last Line

The Last Line

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Member Reviews

As soon as I read that there was a murder, a community theatre troupe, and a neurodivergent protagonist, I was all in to read this ARC! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing it in exchange for my honest review.

There were many things to enjoy about this book. The main investigators in this book, Ellie and Bill, have a good dynamic between them and I liked the storytelling from their alternating points of view. The author mentions having wanted to write about a character with Tourette syndrome for whom that's one aspect of who they are, not their entire character. I felt the author achieved that balance well.

With a murder taking place on stage in a community theatre production, I wasn't sure whether I was expecting something funny, something cozy, or something dark. This book walks a cozy line but ventures into the darker territory when the motive behind the murder is revealed, which I wasn't expecting, and didn't quite seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the book. I found the mystery itself a little bit flat, not quite doing enough to keep the pages turning in a riveting way.

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The Last Line is about a theater owner named Ellie and a a death of one of her actors that happened at one of her productions. When the death is considered a heart attack, she sets off to figure out what really happened with the help of her police chief friend Bill.

I liked the story and it wrapped up well with the epilogue. It was nice to have a main character be neurodiverse. I found the main characters likable and some of the supporting cast likable too.

It would have been nice to see more perspectives than just the two main characters to understand what the others might’ve been thinking as suspects. For me there wasn’t really a much of a mystery aspect to it, besides the death and trying to figure out who did it. I think that it could have a little more mystery to it.

If you like books with a lighter mystery to it and neurodiverse characters, I think this book could be for you.

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I thought Ellie was a unique character and enjoyed the way she was written. It had a great mystery element to it and worked with everything that I enjoyed from the genre. It had me guessing from start to finish. I was engaged with the play and thought it was beautifully done. Scott Lyerly writes a strong story and I'm glad I was able to read this.

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Scott Lyerly’s debut mystery, The Last Line, is set in the world of community theater. It’s not unusual for a body in such a mystery to be a disliked cast member. What is unusual, and what you’ll remember, is the owner of the theater, Ellie Marlowe, the amateur sleuth who has Tourette syndrome.

“Murder in a Teacup”, the latest production at the Kaleidoscope Theater in Avalon, Massachusetts, might just save Ellie from financial ruin. Tickets are selling fast. Unfortunately, the cast and crew has to put up with the leading man, Reginald Thornton IV, who is making everyone miserable. He has a way of picking on everyone’s biggest weakness, even Ellie with her tics and grunts. No one grieves when Thornton dies on stage in the final scene on opening night. But, when she realizes he actually is dead, Ellie is terrified she could lose everything.

The Massachusetts state police write the death off as a heart attack, but it doesn’t feel right to the local police chief, Bill Starlin. He and Ellie have been friends since childhood, and they find a way to start their own investigation. It won’t be easy, and it’s additional stress Ellie doesn’t need. It can only make her Tourette syndrome symptoms worse. But, she needs to find the truth.

I read two mysteries in a row set in the world of community theater. They both feature amateur sleuths investigating the death of an obnoxious leading man. Fortunately, the sleuths and the solutions were both dissimilar. Lyerly’s notes say he wanted to introduce a character who lives with Tourette syndrome, not the character seen on so many television shows. Ellie Marlowe can break your heart at times, but she’s determined to be a survivor. And, an amateur sleuth.

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A cozy crime with some different elements (such as a lead character having Tourette’s). It was quite a long read for a cozy crime but nice easy read and I particularly liked a lot of the characters, especially the vile Reginald!

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC to review.

A local theater’s production takes an unexpected turn when its leading man dies during the final act. Was his sudden demise due to natural causes or is something darker at play? It’s up to theater owner Ellie Marlowe and her childhood friend (and local chief of police) Bill Stalin to uncover the truth.

The book primarily alternates viewpoints between Ellie and Bill. Both are decent characters, though the background of their relationship feels like an unnecessary addition. It is also hard to buy how much Bill includes Ellie in his investigations without facing repercussions, especially given she is a civilian.

Regarding the other characters, had there been more viewpoints from them throughout the book, it would have added more depth to the mystery. It was a bit challenging to keep track of why certain characters were relevant because they simply were not featured enough.

As far as the plot, it was a good premise overall. However, there were a few odd choices for the style of the book. With how closed-door some of the romance in the book is, having porn and prostitution play into it so heavily felt like a disconnect; it ended up reading like a cozy mystery wanting to be a darker thriller.

While some elements could have been better explored and characters more developed, this was ultimately a fun read. It will make a good selection for those wanting a lighter mystery to pass the time.

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