THE REST IS SILENCE
The director of the AWB Theatre Company, Lawrence Mickelman, has alienated everyone in sight with his tyrannical manner. When his body is found in the locked Bouwerie Lane Theatre, a sword from Hamlet in his chest, the troupe’s owner asks Mark Louis, one of the actors, to dig a little deeper than she thinks the police will. The police investigation points toward Don Lovett, the play’s Hamlet, but Mark’s suspicions turn elsewhere. As the police prepare to arrest Don, Mark must bring the murderer out into the open before the killer strikes again.
“So, what happened?” Mark asked.
Kevin and Barbara looked at each other. “You tell him, Barbara.”
Barbara shook her head in continuing disbelief. “We got here around ten and opened up the basement door.” A narrow passage with steps leading from the sidewalk down to the basement door ran alongside the theatre. The dressing rooms, a lower lobby used for intermissions, and a tiny office comprised the basement level.
“I helped Kevin get some of the props we need for tonight out of the closet.”
“I noticed a sword was missing,” said Kevin. “A foil, actually. I looked for it while Barbara went upstairs.”
Barbara picked up the story. “I started to the box office to see whether we had any messages on our machine. I came out from behind the back curtain and almost fainted. There he was, lying on an old mattress that’d been in the back since we took over the theatre. And…and this sword was sticking up out of him.”
“She screamed,” Kevin picked up the story, “and I ran upstairs. I thought maybe some derelict had got in again. There was enough light from downstairs to see who it was. I hit the stage lights, and God, so much blood. It made stains on the mattress, on him. I never saw anything like it.”
“We walked over to the body,” Barbara continued. “He had such a look on his face.”
“What kind of look?” Mark asked.
Barbara spread her hands and looked at Kevin.
“Shock,” he explained. “Surprise. His eyes were open. It was ghastly.”
“Where was he stabbed?”
“The sword stuck out of his chest and there—” He gulped. “There was another bloody stain on his stomach. The two stains were reaching toward each other.” Kevin moved his hands together as if clutching a throat.
This is a fun mystery which takes place during a theatre company’s rehearsals for a production of Hamlet. And as I re-read the Prologue, I realized that there are a number of clues given right there, clues which both I and our amateur detective didn’t pick up on until near the end. The entire murder is detailed in the Prologue, with, of course, the exception of the names of the murderer and the victim.
Paulits has written an engaging story, and I could identify with many of the characters. The story is told from different points of view, which allows Paulits to show more dimensions to his characters. A murder in an acting company is ready-made for all sorts of intrigue, plotting, jealousies, and backstabbing. Mark Louis, the amateur detective, plays the role of Horatio, but in fact he would much rather be writing than acting, and he has just had one of his stories published in Ellery Queen Magazine. He does finally solve the mystery, with a lot of help from his friends, and the story ends well. It is refreshing to read a whodunit without a lot of blood and gore.
Paulits has written a light-hearted cozy mystery with a nice scattering of Shakespeare, and I found it to be an enjoyable read. I can recommend it to any fans of cozy mysteries.
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