As she tries to uncover the motive for Alyson’s murder, Beth finds herself caught up in the bizarre dynamics of Margaret Palmer, the director of the play, and her husband Ray, a fellow professor whose fixation with the play’s young lead, Ami Akido, lands him on the suspect list: Ami was one of the last people to see Alyson alive. Hall’s understanding of academia, the theater, and the legal world add welcome authenticity to the narrative, as she convincingly captures a criminal investigation and provides accurate insight into John’s legal practice. The spot-on depiction of university tenure systems, and the tension-filled relationships between faculty and administration, ground the novel’s different components in a believable world.
Also strongly developed: The backstage politics and emotional upheaval of casting and staging a play. Hall gradually offers details into the circumstances of why Beth, once a dancer on Broadway, left New York, adding another layer of mystery. Hall’s knotty plotting and fast-paced storytelling will keep readers guessing. Despite some wooden dialogue between the characters at times, this is a compelling thriller builds to a stunning conclusion.
Takeaway: This smart, swift race-against-time thriller boasts a convincing academic milieu and a knockout conclusion.
Great for fans of: Christopher Greyson’s The Girl Who Lived, Margaret Coel’s The Dream Stalker.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A