Dinner theater can be a death sentence—literally.
Actress Isobel Spice and her best friend Delphi Kramer are thrilled to finally have an opportunity to perform together, even if it’s just a cheesy interactive murder mystery at a judge’s lifetime achievement dinner. But when Isobel’s dramatic death scene is upstaged by a real murder and Delphi is left holding the still-smoking gun, Isobel drops the role of victim and assumes the role of detective. With the help of her precocious brother Percival and her reluctant temp agent James Cooke, Isobel peels back layers of deception to reveal a shocking abuse of power—and no shortage of suspects eager to deliver justice to a man who denied it to so many.
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The gun went off with a resounding report, and Isobel Spice staggered backward with a gasp. She tried to scream, but her breath caught in the back of her throat and all that came out was a gurgling, choking sound. Her eyes widened in horror as her hands, clutching her chest, came away red and sticky. She swayed precariously for a moment, but then her eyelids collapsed, her head fell back, and her knees gave way. She sank to the ground, arms and legs splayed at unnatural angles.
All was silent.
“Okay, that was way over the top.”
Isobel sat up in the middle of the dance floor, wiping her hands on her stained shirt. She frowned at her friend, Delphi Kramer, who was still aiming the old-fashioned-looking derringer at her.
“That’s not your call.” Isobel turned to Peter Catanzaro, the burly, broad-shouldered, perennially stubbled producer and star of Murder à la Carte. “Was it too much?”
“Are you kidding? The cheesier, the better.” Peter offered a hand and pulled her to her feet. “Shakespeare it ain’t.”
Isobel snuck a glance at Delphi, whose blue eyes grew stormy. Isobel knew Delphi prided herself on her facility with the Bard’s iambs, and she, more than Isobel, felt they were slumming doing murder mystery dinner theater. Having won her point with Peter, however, Isobel took pity on her friend and, grabbing her arm, whispered a reminder: “A hundred bucks. And dinner.”
Delphi shook her off, and the gun bumped Isobel’s arm. Isobel let out a little shriek.
“Give me the gun,” Peter ordered. “That’s why you don’t get to handle the weapons except during rehearsal and performance.”
About the Author
Joanne Sydney Lessner is the author of BloodWrites Award-Winner The Temporary Detective (Dulcet Press, 2012), which introduces Isobel Spice, aspiring actress and resourceful office temp turned amateur sleuth. Isobel’s adventures continue in the novels Bad Publicity (Dulcet Press, 2013) and And Justice for Some (Dulcet Press, 2014). The Ghosts’ High Noon (Dulcet Press, 2014), an Isobel Spice short story, is available on http://joannesydneylessner.com as a free download. Inspired by the true story of the world’s most expensive bottle of wine, Joanne’s debut novel Pandora’s Bottle (Flint Mine Press, 2010) was named one of the top five books of 2010 by Paperback Dolls. Her play, Critical Mass, winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition, received its New York premiere at the Lion Theatre on Theatre Row in October 2010. She has written the book and lyrics to several musicals with her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, including the cult hit Fermat’s Last Tango, which received its Off-Broadway premiere at the York Theatre Company in November 2000, and Einstein’s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. They are currently developing a musical based on Wilkie Collins’s The Haunted Hotel for the Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, Virginia. Joanne is also a regular contributing writer to Opera News.