Realtor Len Trager is anxious to sell the lovely old brownstone in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, and Maggie and Nick think it looks like a dream house for a young couple expecting their first child. But problems show up. It needs renovation– okay. There’s a stubborn tenant who refuses to move out– not so okay.
And then there’s the nasty surprise on the top floor….
“Terrific characters, funny incidents, genuine suspense, and an absolutely right sense of period and place.”–– Tom and Enid Schantz, THE PURLOINED LETTER
Rehearsal for Murder
As REHEARSAL FOR MURDER begins, Maggie is a partner in a statistical consulting business, and her actor husband Nick O’Connor has been cast in a wonderful new role. He’s rehearsing an off-Broadway musical, playing Gladstone to the famous Ramona Ricci’s Queen Victoria. But Nick is worried by Ramona’s diva-like behavior, which enrages the cast members. And the home front is even tougher. He and Maggie adore their five-month-old daughter Sarah, but she exhausts them and leaves them no time for each other.
Then they’re slammed with two more problems. Maggie, doing a favor for another frazzled parent, gets wind of a plot against that child. And someone guns down the bitchy Ramona.
“A tightly woven thriller, warm and beautifully paced with a bittersweet finale. This show must go on!”–– Dorothy Salisbury Davis, MWA Grand Master
A pause; a choked sob from the crumpled Ramona; and then the pounding dirge from chorus and piano.
Ramona straightened slowly, as though lifting a crushing weight, and pulled a black shawl about her. The chorus moved back with measured steps, leaving her solitary in the middle of the stage. The music modulated, and very quietly she began to sing “The Widow of Windsor.” For the first time that day she did not have to worry about new dance steps or new movements, and she invested the words with a powerful emotional energy. “Alone,” she sang, “in the crowds, still alone; among the princes, alone; forever alone.” Nick, standing in the silent chorus, felt his throat tightening. The small isolated figure, the husky beauty of the voice that shimmered on the edge of tears, communicated a human truth that transcended history, geography, wealth, gender. She bound them all into Victoria’s grief.
The last chords faded.
Then the stage manager cleared his throat and said, “Blackout,” in his flat twang.
The spell was shattered. Derek exclaimed, “Super! But you know that, Ramona. On to act two?”
“Let’s stop a minute early today, Derek. It’s been a long afternoon.” Ramona, drooping, pulled the shawl from her shoulders, then noticed the blond onlooker for the first time and stiffened. “Well! So Larry’s evening revels have begun already. Though the brunette that came for him yesterday was prettier. Treat him well, sweetie.” She winked at the young woman. “Your competition is formidable.”
The few words reawakened the sizzle of rage in all of them.
* * *
Excerpt from Rehearsal For Murder by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.
P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.
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I have this series on my wish list. I think it would be fun to read them because it takes place in the 70s which I remember well.
Happy to visit Spotlight on Murder today! I’ve always loved mysteries, but in writing them, my background in psych drew me to characters facing major life problems like losing a home, unwanted pregnancy, brain trauma, PTS, on and on. So many of us manage to cope with grace and humor– I like to think my books are good mysteries, but also a salute to helping and healing! Thanks for hosting.