Isobel Spice wants to be a full-time actress and in the meantime between various acting gigs, she works as a temporary assistant to a lawyer. She has an insatiable curiosity which knows no bounds, frequently landing her in trouble. She becomes embroiled in her current case while she is performing in an interactive dinner theater. Isobel is supposed to be the victim, dying with melodramatic intensity, complete with fake blood and a foaming mouth, only to be upstaged by a real murder.
The action is fast-paced and there are a plethora of suspects. It seems that everyone wanted to kill the judge, who abused his power especially in the sentencing of juveniles for various offenses. “Some of them can’t even be described with straight faces as offenses. Like the seventh grader who wrote on her desk at school with a Sharpie.” So it is no wonder that he came to a bad end, but who was the actual murderer? The plot has a number of twists and turns, and I was on the edge of my seat right to the end. The final scene, while not entirely believable, was very dramatic and eminently satisfying.
Great attention has been paid to the details within the story. I learned a lot about the acting profession, the legal profession, and juvenile detention. Isobel is a complex character with a variety of friends. She can’t make up her mind about her feelings at times, and she does things without thinking, with the single-minded purpose of solving the crime, without worrying about the propriety of her actions. She comes across as a very real person.
The supporting characters are also well-crafted and ring true. I especially liked her friend, Delphi Kramer, and her brother, Percival, a precocious computer whiz.
Mystery lovers are sure to enjoy helping Isobel solve this crime. Murder is murder, no matter how deserving the victim may be.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.