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A Midsummer Night's Scream (Jane Jeffry…
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A Midsummer Night's Scream (Jane Jeffry Mysteries, No. 15) (2004)

by Jill Churchill

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The obvious theme of A Midsummer Night's Scream is the theater, but this book had a lot more going on than that. We see Jane making progress in her blossoming career as a author, Shelley testing caterers, and the the two of them taking a needlepoint class. With so many different activities going on, readers are sure to find something to grab their attentions. I may not care much about acting or needlepoint, but I loved the look at Jane's road to publication as well as the culinary aspect of the different caterers.

In A Midsummer Night's Scream, Jane and Shelley are on their home turf as they look into the death of an actor. That means finding time for the investigation while raising kids (not as much as before since the children are mostly grown). It also means more involvement from Mel, as it's his case.

The case itself is surprising. I only had the tiniest inkling who the murderer was right before they were revealed. The motive behind the murder was only slightly more obvious given earlier clues. All in all, it was a fun addition to the series. ( )
  TequilaReader | Dec 8, 2010 |
Jane Jeffry's friend, Shelley Nowack, has agreed to find caterers to provide meals for participants in a play the local community college is putting on and asks Jane to help her. Jane agrees, figuring she can work on her latest hobby, needlepoint, while watching the rehearsal. She also hopes to get some ideas for a new book that she is writing. But Jane gets more than she bargained for when an actor in the play is murdered and the janitor at the theater is attacked. Jane's longtime boyfriend, police Detective Mel van Dyne, in investigating the case and asks for Jane's help as she knows the cast and crew quite well. Jane has plenty of suspects for Mel, including the director-playwright, Steven Imry and all the cast members.

Jill Churchill's last Jane Jeffrey mystery "Bell, Book, and Scandal" was pretty bad but I had hoped that was just a one-time thing. Unfortunately, "A Midsummer Night's Scream" is almost as bad, if not worse. Outside of Jane's success as a novelist, there is no character development and the only new interesting character is Gloria Bunting. The writing is stiff and some passages, such as the needlepoint class instructions seem like they are quoted from books. The dialogue is awkward and artificial and at least once Churchill loses track of which character is speaking. Even cozy bits, such as Jane's cat catching a mole are badly written and feel forced.

The Jane Jeffry mystery series used to be a light, cozy, pleasant read and it's a shame to see the series go downhill so fast. I recommend reading the other books in the series and skipping the last two. Hopefully that the next one will be better and puts the series back on track. ( )
  drebbles | Oct 26, 2009 |
I use to read Jill Churchill books all the time, but stopped a few years ago because each seemed so much the same. So, I thought I would try it again. It's an easy read mystery, but leaves you wanting so much more from it. Maybe less catering info and more mystery might have helped! ( )
  Allie64 | Dec 6, 2007 |
Jane and Shelley have a new interest: The stage – a run-down old theater that Shelley's husband rescued from demolition and donated to a local college drama department. Students are in rehearsal for a play written by a teacher/director, a surefire bomb in the making, distinctly lacking style, wit, or substance.
Though Jane'' interest is culinary–helping Shelley try out new caterers on the students who are on a "fast-track" summer schedule and are only free in time to get to the theater.
What scenes there are, with petty off-stage feuds and jealousies, ego trips and power plays between the clueless teacher/director /scriptwriter and his cast. Even the presence of two aging professional thespians - a lecherous old boozer, and his genteel, seriously gifted wife can save the dreadful production.
The plot takes darker turn when a rebellious young performer exits right on a gurney on the way to the mortuary. The attack on the janitor who comes in and cleans overnight, and has an interesting secret, forces Jane and Shelley to help Mel out with what they've learned about the actors and crew – stage hands, scene painters, costumers, and lighting experts.
A 'light' cosy read. I think the language and scenarios are a bit too 'everyday' for me ( )
  smik | Jul 27, 2007 |
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For my brother, actor and producer John David Young, who helped me with advice, some of which I had to ignore. All mistakes are mine.
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Jane and Shelley were on their way to pillage the grocery store.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060501006, Mass Market Paperback)

Jane Jeffry has a new hobby: the theater––specifically, a rundown theater that close pal Shelly and her husband have donated to a local college drama department. Jane has graciously agreed to lend her taste buds to the college's newest production, helping Shelly judge prospective caterers who will be feeding the actors. But soon she's drawn deeper into the real life drama surrounding the play than she ever hoped or anticipated.

The cast is embroiled in petty, off–stage jealousies, ego trips and power struggles, all of which are further fueled by the clueless, blowhard director. Even the presence of two aging professional thespians––a lecherous old boozer and his genteel, seriously gifted wife––fails to bring a sense of decorum to this train wreck of a production. And the plot takes a decidedly darker turn when a particularly rebellious young performer exits stage left––permanently––courtesy of a head–bashing killer! Now Jane and Shelly have their own roles to play in this twisted, true life theatrical where each member of the dramatis personae has a make–up case full of secrets, masks and motives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:21 -0400)

Having donated a theater to a local university, drama department benefactor Shelley invites Jane Jeffry to help her sample cuisine by prospective new caterers, a situation that turns deadly when a new production's cast member is found dead under suspicious circumstances.… (more)

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