Reading List: Visiting the Theatre Can Be Murder!

Do you love the theatre and a good mystery? Then let one of these books take center stage of your next night in, but beware, behind every curtain lurks a killer. Catch them if you can before they kill again!

Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood (Phryrne Fisher Mysteries,7)

Phryne Fisher is running late to a showing of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore when she runs into some ruffians beating up an elderly Chinese woman. Like fury with the wings of Mercury, she fends them off without tearing her silver dress. On the ground, she discovers they had also descended on a young Chinese man. Grateful, the elderly woman and young man invite them to their silk shop to repair any damage to her costume and offer her a cognac. Phryne realizes she just saved the most influential woman in the Chinese community of Little Bourke Street. Phryne settles in to watch Ruddigore when the lead actor dies onstage in the middle of the performance. Her friend staging the play begs her to find the killer, but first, Phryne must solve an old case, banish a ghost, and watch her step on Little Bourke Street.

Murder at the Playhouse by Helena Dixon (A Miss Underhay Mystery, 3)

Captain Matthew Bryant is arrested for strangling aspiring actress Pearl Bright with his bootlace. When the young woman is found dead on a golf course by the acerbic Mrs. Craven, Inspector Grenville has no choice but to arrest Captain Bryant. Mrs. Craven, sure of Captain Bryant’s innocence, teams up with Kitty Underhay to find the actual murderer. Kitty Underhay helps theatre imperriso’s Stanley  Davenport family finish putting up the revue and spies on the Davenport family, who are deeply involved in Pear Bright’s horrific death. Kitty Underhay’s budding romance with Captain Bryant is pushed to the breaking point. Their new private investigation company almost goes broke until Kitty Underhay saves it all by unmasking a very tricky killer.

Disaster at the Vendome Theater by M.L. Longworth (A Provencal Mystery, 10)

Join Jean-Marc Sauvet, a local lawyer in Aix- en Provence’s newest summer production of Marcel Pagnol’s, Cigalon. As the sweltering August heat rises, so do tempers amongst professional and amateur actors of the theatre company. When one of the actors disappears, Jean-Marc Sauvet enlists the help of his friend, magistrate Antoine Verlaque. As Antoine Verlaque begins to investigate, everyone’s secrets are revealed, and he must call in police commissioner Bruno Paulik to help as tensions reach a fever pitch. Will the show go on, or is it curtains for this production? Find out in this cozy atmospheric mystery.

Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens (A Murder Most Unladylike, 7)

Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells travel from Hong Kong to London to stay with Daisy’s Uncle Felix, who hopes to keep this mischievous pair out of trouble. Uncle Felix gives them small parts in his production of Romeo and Juliet, which he’s staging at the Rue Theatre. While Hazel and Daisy battle crushes and stage fright, they aren’t too busy to notice the strained relationship between the two leads. When the lead actress drowns, the pair investigate the shadowy underworld of the stage and hopes to put on spotlight the murderer before they kill again. A fun historical mystery for children and young readers to give to a loved one at your next celebration.

The Empire Theatre Murders by Jack Murray (Lord Kit Aston, 8)

Policeman Rufus Watts asks Kit and Mary Aston to infiltrate and investigate some mysterious things happening at his family’s seaside variety theatre. When they arrive, the passionate and dislikeable magician Javier Gonzalo makes enemies everywhere he turns. When Gonzalo loses his head- literally- in the middle of his performance, there’s no shortage of suspects. This is not a stand-alone crime, part of the killers’ devious revenge to reckon old wrongs. Kit and Mary must find the murderer before they are unmasked as sleuths, and someone else dies. Available for preorder now and out on May 15, 2023.

Grace in the Wings by Kati Bovee (A Grace Michelle Mystery, 1)

Things are finally looking up for Grace Michelle. She’s landed her dream job as a costume designer for the Ziegfeld Follies. Grace looks at the production with immense pride and is happy to share her joy with her sister, Sofia, the lead actress. When Sofia dies, Grace’s world is shattered. As Sofia’s role is replaced with another actress, Grace’s heart breaks further. Despite her grief, Grace rallies and starts investigating Sofia’s brutal death. This book is inspired by the real-life historical figures of Fannie Brice and Florenz Ziegfeld, jr. and is couched in many actual events. A historical mystery for history lovers and theatre lovers alike!

Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot, 11)

When Sir Charles Cartwright invites an unlucky number of thirteen guests to dinner, his housekeeper is on edge. She begs him to ask another person to ward off bad luck, but he does not believe in silly superstitions. When one of the guests chokes to death on a cocktail, everyone assumes poison, but they are wrong. Enter famed private detective Hercule Poirot, who laments that he can find no motive for the crime, but when he sets his “little gray cells” to work, she begins to wonder if the dinner was not just a dinner- but a dinner and a show. As he takes the lead in investigating the death, he finds that he must stop the star of the show- the killer- before a young lady dies.

Murder Off-Stage by L. B. Hathaway (The Posie Parker Mystery Series, 1)

In Posie Parker’s debut novel, she finds herself quite alone in the world. Her brothers dead in the Great War and her father, a rector recently deceased she must make her way. With nothing to lose Posie Parker sets up as a private investigator. Her first case is to find a stolen diamond ring connected to an unsavory theatre company. This cozy mystery will keep you guessing as kidnappings, international crime rings, and romance abound, but Posie Parker keeps her cool. When Posie Parker’s lovely cat is stolen she takes matters into her own hands. An entertaining read that is reminiscent of The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie.

The Jinx Theatre Murder by Alexander Williams

In his 1933 novel, Alexander Williams creates a phantasmal killer haunting the Bolton Theatre. As the bodies pile up, no one is safe, and there are no clues as to whether the killer is a part of the theatre company, a patron, a musician, or a madman. As Detective-Sergeant Pietro Tonelli struggles to apprehend the killer. They stalk their next victim, and no one is safe! A thriller for the ages is to be found in the almost forgotten work, The Jinx Theatre Murder.

Light Thickens by Ngaio Marsh (Inspector Roderick Alleyn, 32)

When theatre director Peregrine Jay mounts “The Scottish Play,” he knows he’s inviting superstition and hijinks. What starts as a few harmless pranks escalates to murder when the lead actor is killed. A murder hides among the players, and Inspector Roderick Alleyn’s job is to sort Shakespearean drama from deadly aspirations before the curtain rises on opening night at the famed Dolphin Theatre. Atmospheric and detailed in its description of Macbeth, a real treat for actors, directors, and theatre lovers.

Theatre-lovers, did I miss any of your favorites? If so sound off below!


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