Jack Dwyer, ex-cop turned amateur actor, is delighted when his agent lands him a role in a local production of Long Day's Journey into Night. The real drama starts, however, when Michael Reeves - the play's angry, bullying director - is found murdered, and Dwyer's friend Stephen Wade, a sweet has-been of an actor, is charged with the crime. Dwyer knows that Wade has been set up. But who did it? And why?
Was it David Ashton, an apparent fortune-seeker and heir to the Bridges Theater by marriage; or Richard Keech, the handsome, pushy young actor who shared the woman whom the dead man loved? Or could it have been Anne Stewart - the aging actress who carries a secret as dark as that of the character she plays? And what of Lenora Bridges, the matriarch of the theatrical family, who never comes out of her room in the building high above the stage?
Sure, all the world's a stage, but for Dwyer, it's not that simple, because a real man's life is on the line. In order to save him, Dwyer's going to have to discover what's really going on behind the scenes at the most bizarre, mysterious, complex theater company west of Times Square.
Another enjoyable enough murder mystery from the mid 80s and Ed Gorman. It's the fourth in his Jack Dwyer, ex-cop PI series and it's set against a back drop of the theatre.
Jack's friend, Stephen Wade, a star on his downers gets fired from the theatre's latest production after performing drunk. Later that night Jack gets a panicked call from Wade. Wade is still intoxicated and has discovered the play's director dead, after calling on him to apologise and plead for his job. His memory is sketchy and needless to say he handled the murder weapon, before ultimately and against Jack's advice going on the run. Primo Murder Suspect #1
Jack does some investigating to see who other than Wade might have a motive for wanting Michael Reeves dead.
Theatre, actors, a rich family, reputations, secrets, a bedridden matriarch, a troubled daughter with a past, a marriage and a gold digging husband (?), breakdowns and mental health, involvement with ex-cons through an acting workshop, trysts and road trips to an isolated property, drug use/dealing, blackmail, a flight from the law, and an investigation conducted with a girlfriend at the elbow.
I liked it and I was happy enough listening along to it. It's one of those books that adequately entertains without ever setting the world on fire. I mean the peripheral characters ie suspects aren't especially likable or horrid, something that equally applies to Jack Dwyer. The murder victim, in the little we see of him, is a horse's ass. Again, not so unlikable I wanted to reach into the book and kill him myself, maybe just punch him a time or two.
There's some tension at one point when him and his girlfriend have broken into a property to search for information and while searching someone else then breaks in to search for something. He gets the answer at the end, and yippee to him for doing so.
An okay mystery with an okay pace, okay characters, okay setting, with an okay resolution and an alright length. Just lacking any real spark that had me salivating.
3 from 5
Ed Gorman sadly passed, has an impressive body of work to his name and some stellar books. I seem to be mired in reading his bang average ones. I'll persevere.
Read - (listened to) February, 2021
Published - 1986
Page count - 141 (4 hrs 29 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible