I’m always torn when people offer to send me books for possible review. If it’s not an audiobook or ebook, it goes on the bottom of the “get to when neither of those is available” list. That’s just the way my schedule works. As such, it takes me forever. Such is the case with Cindy Brown’s Macdeath, which I’ve had so long I can’t remember when I got my copy. But I’m happy to say I finished it!
Book one of a series, Macdeath introduces us to Ivy Meadows, a struggling actress / part-time detective (thanks to her Uncle Bob, a full-time detective). Ivy’s been cast as one of the witches in Macbeth, and we all know that the Scottish play is cursed. Sure enough, somebody winds up dead. Now Ivy can’t seem to stop investigating whodunnit, despite the pleas and flat-out demands of her coworkers, the police, and her detective uncle.
Maybe if I was a backstage theatre geek I would have liked this one more, since that’s where most of the action takes place. I just couldn’t get into any of the characters. None of them are around long enough or described deeply enough to care about. Which, granted, is part of the point of a murder mystery because you need to keep guessing about who the murderer is. But without that, I was stuck in the head of our narrator, and as a 50yr old husband and father with stuff on my to-do list, I felt exactly as comfortable with that as I would have hanging out in real life with a 20something struggling actress :). Oh, your costume is too tight in the crotch? You’re not sure if you have enough money to get your car out of the parking lot? The struggle is real, people.
There’s plenty of twists to the story, a couple of dead ends, and a reasonably satisfying ending (as these things go). A cast of characters has been introduced, and there’s obvious room for a series.
Know what it reminded me of? Once upon a time, there was a golden age of television where it seems like everything was a detective show. Magnum P.I., Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Remington Steele, Hart to Hart, Miami Vice, Charlie’s Angels, Simon and Simon … This book reminded me a great deal of those. Imagine a Charlie’s Angels episode where one of the girls has to go undercover in a production of Macbeth. You get a very brief glimpse at the cast of characters, she runs around trying to uncover clues even though everybody tells her not to (because she can’t blow her cover), and all the while she still has to remember her lines and go perform when her cue comes. Then when their allotted hour of tv time is up the bad guy is revealed, the day is saved, and everything wraps up nicely until next week.
That’s not a bad thing. There’s a reason why they made so many of those shows, and some of them did very well (Murder She Wrote went for 12 seasons!) But the strength of each of those shows was in the main character, and finding an audience that connected with that character. Just because I’m not the audience for Ivy Meadows doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
P.S. Just one more thing before I go? We all know that Shakespeare was a master of the dirty double entendre, whether Hamlet’s putting his head in Ophelia’s lap or Mercutio’s got his hands upon the very prick of noon. I’ve got people regularly telling me that Shakespeare itself is a euphemism for something (as is “will”, come to think of it). The author chose to have one of her characters named … are you ready for this? Detective Pinkstaff. Yikes. Every time that character was in the scene I couldn’t take him seriously, not because he was a bad character, but because he was a walking phallic joke. At least she didn’t make him the love interest.