Here is the first set of recommendations for books featuring theatre, TV, film or music as a major theme or setting from the Crime and Mystery Book Club at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library.
All My Enemies by Barry Maitland
This is a Kolla and Brock novel which begins with DS Kathy Kolla about to start a new job with the New Scotland Yard Serious Crime Division headed up by DCI David Brock. Kolla’s is assigned to her first case in the Division which involves the gruesome murder of a young woman that seems theatrical. The case leads her into a local amateur drama group and a more complex set of circumstances.
As highlighted before on this blog, Barry Maitland was born in 1941 in Scotland. He studied architecture at Cambridge, practised and taught in the UK before moving to Australia, where he became a Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. He retired in 2000 and took up writing full-time.
A Decent Interval, So Much Blood by Simon Brett
A Decent Interval and So Much Blood, both feature the actor and amateur sleuth, Charles Paris. The Paris novels are one of four series written by Simon Brett. The others feature Mrs Pargeter, Fethering, and brother and sister - Blotto & Twinks. A Decent Interval book picks up Charles’ life when he is cast as the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father and First Gravedigger in the latest production of Hamlet. Charles finds himself one of the more experienced theatre actors in the cast with the role of Ophelia being played by the winner of a television talent show, and another reality TV contestant playing the lead role of Hamlet. What could go wrong?
In So Much Blood, Charles is in a fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival which becomes the backdrop to a gory murder involving a fading pop star.
Steel Guitar by Linda Barnes
Linda Barnes was born in Detriot the home of Motown, and moved to Boston for college. She sets her PI Carlotta Carlyle novels in her adopted home town. In Steel Guitar, Carlotta is moonlighting as a hack driver when she picks up a fare that is a blast from the past. The fare is Carlotta’s ex-friend and former band mate Dee Willis, who has made it big on the charts. Dee hires Carlotta to find a friend and involves Carlotta in a story of blackmail, murder and stolen songwriting credit.
A Pocketful of Rye, Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie
Two of Agatha Christie’s many many novels were recommended, The Witness for the Prosecution and A Pocketful of Rye. The Witness for the Prosecution is a short story and play that was published in 1925. A Pocket Full of Rye, on the other hand, was published in 1953. It is one of her later novels featuring Miss Marple and is based on a children’s nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence.
Vintage Murder, Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh
Another Dame of Golden Age crime fiction was recommended for this theme. New Zealander Ngaio Marsh was primarily known for her Inspector Roderick Alleyn novels, a gentleman detective who works for the London Metropolitan Police. The first of her novel highlighted is Overture, which focuses on amateur actors in the village of Chipping who are putting on a production for charity when one of the cast members, wealthy spinster Idris Campanula is killed. The second novel is Vintage Murder, fifth in the Alleyn series, and it centres on a travelling theatre troupe in New Zealand.
A Three Pipe Problem by Julian Symons
This book is about Sherlock Holmes, the literary character. The story's protagonist is Sheridan Haynes, an actor, who plays Holmes in a TV series. Sheridan becomes a method actor when there are a series of unsolved murders in London and he starts to investigate. What could go wrong?
Julian Symons is an English author who has written a huge amount of books ranging subjects from social and military history to biography, criticism and crime. He was named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America in 1982. He also succeeded Agatha Christie as the president of Britain's Detection Club.