I received this book for free from . This review is voluntary. My opinion is not influenced in any way.The Patron Murders on September 29, 2015
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Matt Johanssen, a dedicated stage actor in his early fifties, is currently rehearsing a play soon to open on Broadway. Through the years Matt, in addition to his work in the theatre, has also anonymously assisted the NYPD in solving a number of crimes.
While he is in rehearsals, thirty blocks away a startling murder takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where a trustee is discovered on the roof of the Museum with a javelin thrust through his heart. The dramatic nature of the crime reverberates through cultural circles in Manhattan. A few days later, during a rehearsal of Matt’s Broadway-bound play, the admired, beloved lady producer of the play is found dead in the darkened basement lounge of the theatre.
Ten days later, during a gala at the American Museum of Natural History, there is another murder of a museum trustee, this one far more sensational than the one before. Working behind the scenes Matt becomes deeply involved in solving all three murders. Meanwhile, he encounters an intriguing, auburn haired woman writing about the murders, with whom he becomes involved.
Set against a background of the inner workings of the theatre, as well as the arts and cultural scenes in New York City, The Patron Murders is part detective story, part social novel, and part a witty, incisive critique of the relationship of recently acquired fortunes to the old-line arts establishments of the City.
Writing a murder mystery – my first work of fiction – brought together several threads of my career: (1) the theatre, in which I have been involved all my working life, (2) writing, in which I have also been involved for many years, and (3) an interest in detective stories and mysteries with which I have long been intrigued. I received Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Yale Drama School and taught at Yale, Vanderbilt, and for many years at Hunter College in New York City. Along the way I also directed in regional theatre and produced plays on and off Broadway. It was while teaching at Hunter that I had the idea to write a college theatre textbook which resulted in an association with McGraw-Hill publishers that has continued for over 40 years and resulted in three textbooks which collectively have gone through 28 editions. While teaching I also became the theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal newspaper, a post I held for 22 years.
Three years ago I had the urge to try something new – writing a murder mystery. Having worked so long and extensively in the theatre, it was natural to make theatre a key ingredient in the book. For that reason I had the action take place over a three-week period during which a theatre company is rehearsing and opening a new play on Broadway. A number of people reading the book have remarked on how much they enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look this afforded of a theatre production being readied for performance. One of the actors, Matt Johanssen, who plays a leading role in the drama, is the narrator of the novel. The idea of using a stage actor who is also an amateur detective came from a clever British mystery writer, Simon Brett.
In addition to the above, having lived in Manhattan for over 50 years I’ve had the opportunity to observe first hand the various worlds of culture and the arts, of high finance, and of what used to be known as High Society. It is at the intersection of business success and a desire to be identified with culture that board members and trustees of opera companies, symphonies and museums come together. In the book, trustees of two iconic museums are the victims of horrific murders.
Through several drafts I was able to weave these various threads together to produce The Patron Murders, which I’m very pleased has received a reception far warmer than I had expected.
The Patron Murders by Edwin Wilson is a book that intrigued me from the moment I read the blurb. Once I began reading the story, I was quickly pulled in to the world of theatre…and murder. Reading this book, you would not think it is the author’s first fiction novel. That was part of the reason I was excited to read The Patron Murders. It sounded like a good, solid story and I wanted to see if this new fiction story-teller could grab my attention.
Matt Johanssen is an actor and somewhat of an amateur sleuth. I liked that this story was told from the point of view of someone within the theatre. It really made the story feel authentic and gave it a whole other feel than a murder mystery told from the point of view of a detective. The author deftly knits a mystery that had me furrowing my brow and wondering how in the world the story would unravel to reveal the guilty parties. There were lots of twists and turns and several mysteries wrapped up in one story. There were also several viable suspects throughout, and the author did a good job of describing them and keeping characters straight.