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CurtainUp Reviews Murder On Theatre Row
by Michael Jahn

This has not been the best of all Broadway seasons for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Still neither he or his minions seem in any immediate danger from a killer whose weapon is a crossbow--nor is he likely to go to the poorhouse any time soon. That's more than you can say for Sir John Victor Holland the very Sir Andrew-like producer of a new mega-musical called Casablanca: The Musical. This extravaganza scheduled to open in a newly restored Times Square theater-- (the New Amsterdam?)-- is as little to NYPD Investigator Bill Donovan's retro-cultural taste as the rest of the brand-name, glitzy renovation engulfing the area.

You wouldn't find Donovan, who's starred in previous Jahn novels, anywhere within clapping range of the show if it weren't for the murdered body of an Asian man discovered in the sub-basement of the theater after a major water main break. But there you have it, the body is discovered, and it's not the only one! In addition, an unknown grave of a long-dead vaudevillian who used crossbows in his act is revealed and that's exactly what is used to kill the victims.

Soon Donavan and his savvy crew, all of whom know their way around New York in general, and the theater district in particularly are hot on the trail of the assorted suspects who include: a boozy music critic, self-absorbed actors, a past-his-prime agent, plus the head of a construction company who wants Casablanca: The Musical to fail so that he can buy what is increasingly valuable theatrical property. Will the musical open on time, or at all? Will Sir John Victor Holland have a hit or be hit by the crossbow-wielding murderer? Naturally, I'm not going to tell you. Not being a mystery novel expert, I can't give you any assurance as to how forensically accurate Donovan and his aides are. I can tell you, however, that he's got very definite and amusing opinions about such cultural icons as classic movies converted into tasteless musicals as well as the brandname-ification of Times Square. Jahn's tongue-in-cheek aim at the powers that be is as on target as the killer's arrow and very much part of the pleasure of reading this book.

Murder On Theatre Row, (St. Martin's Press, 3/97) is not yet available on-line as this is being written. We'll add a link if it turns up at Book Stacks or Amazon.

A contest of sorts: We'd like to publish an annotated list of novels and short stories set in the theater. The list should include the following: Title, author, publisher, publication date and a brief descriptive paragraph and the theatrical settings and/or characters. We will send a copy of this book to sender of the first and most comprehensive list we receive. Be sure to include your mailing address with your e-mail copy of the list, along with a note granting us permission to publish it at CurtainUp. ©right March 1997, Elyse Sommer .

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