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A Californian's Guide to the Birds Among Us by Charles Hood
Dark Shadows: Yes, Another Misadventure by Doreen Cronin and Stephen Gilpin (Illustrations)
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Deadly Director's Cut: 07/19/22

Deadly Director's Cut

Deadly Director's Cut by Vicki Delany and Jennifer Van Dyck (narrator) is the second book in the Catskill Summer Resort mystery series. The famous movie director, Elias Theropodous, has chosen to do location filming at Haggerman's, for his epic romance set during the second world war. After a night of entertaining and over indulgence, the director vomits, falls down the stairs, and later dies in the local hospital. It's quickly determined that he was murdered!

To save Haggerman's reputation, Elizabeth is forced once again to investigate a murder. She has to do this while making sure her starstruck staff remembers to actually work, while fighting off nosey reporters, and while accommodating the continuing movie shoot. All of this she accomplishes while maintaining 1950s decorum and of course without today's research and communication tools.

The mystery itself, less the set decoration and side plots, reminded me of Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton (2019). Part of that is the setting — New York state, though the two locations are separated by roughly 250 miles and approximately six decades. There is still the shared experience of an unexpected film crew, a dead film crew member, and various celebrities to contend with.

Ultimately, though, this mystery is one giant shell game of suspects and motives. While the first book made use of a currently popular trope, this one stuck more closely to mystery tropes from the era in which the mystery is set. Keeping that in mind and knowing the trick to the shell game, I was able to figure out who the murderer was before Elizabeth. Despite that, it was a fun and dramatic read.

Four stars

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