cover image Backstage Murder

Backstage Murder

Shelley Freydont. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $20 (304pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-458-3

Former dancer Freydont draws on her own professional experience in a solid debut that revolves areound the intrigues of a dance troupe. Lindy Haggerty left her successful dance career behind to raise a family in suburban New Jersey. Now the kids are out of the house, her husband's career has taken off and she's considering what to do next. Out of the blue, her former roommate, Biddy McFee, whom she hasn't seen in 10 years and who is now rehearsal director of the Jeremy Ash Dance Company, invites her to the company's opening performance. The reason for the urgency Lindy senses in Biddy's voice is all too evident when she arrives at the theater to find Biddy on crutches and poisonous backstage atmosphere. Freydont quickly sets her principals in place: Peter Dowd, the once-handsome and now strangely gaunt stage manager; Charlotta Devine, the diva from hell; young and gifted Andrea Martin; Alice Phelps, the costume mistress; the gorgeous Ash himself. Lindy's fears are confirmed when a batten falls from the wings and hits Andrea during the curtain call for Act One. Then Carlotta makes a monstrous scene backstage. In over her head, Biddy asks Lindy to assist her for a few days. On tour and working toward their New York opening, Biddy and Lindy are immersed in management and financial problems, which reach crisis proportions when the devious Carlotta is found murdered on her dressing-room floor. While some elements, such as the possibility of another man in Lindy's life, are too pat, Freydont tells a good story, keeps the reader guessing and sets the stage for a return engagement. (Oct.)