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Played to Death by BV Lawson

Played to Death

by BV Lawson

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868214,745 (3.86)8
A body in a rundown Opera House. Simmering resentment in a small Virginia coastal town. A missing manuscript. A dark family secret. Crime consultant and former classical pianist Scott Drayco reluctantly finds himself on Virginia's Delmarva Peninsula in Cape Unity, a dilapidated fishing village where vacation homes once provided a playground for the rich. In the center of town rises an imposing Opera House recently bequeathed by a grateful client to Drayco, whose hopes of a quick sale are soon dashed by the ambitions of townspeople looking for civic rebirth and a new client with dreams of his own personal redemption. When the client is murdered in the Opera House, the letter "G" mockingly carved into his chest, Drayco, assisted by the local Sheriff and his attractive Deputy, navigates a maze of illicit love affairs, hostility over immigration and coastal development and a vendetta reaching across the Atlantic into some of the darkest days of human history. Along the way Drayco must overcome doubts about his own past that cost the lives of two innocent children on his last case - before the tensions in Cape Unity explode into more violence, and he becomes the next victim.… (more)



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Received as a review copy via Library thing member giveaway. The first in a series which, as I read the 4th in the series (also a review copy) before I read No 1, I was left a little confused - so read them in order as the characters' backgrounds are developed over each book. This is a well written, carefully plotted and planned book, unlike the crime(s) which start off interestingly and then deteriorate with the carelessness of a person or persons under stress in a small town. It is an unfortunate coincidence for the killer(s?) that Scott Drayco is in town.Drayco is a former concert pianist, former FBI agent, current crime specialist and new owner of an opera house situated in a very small town on the East Coast of the USA on a few hours drive from Washington DC where he normally lives.
Drayco turns up in the town early one morning to look over the opera house left to him by a man he did not know. He has also received a message from one of the townsfolk that they - knowing he is an investigator - would like to hire him. So far so normal, until Drayco walks into the opera house, and onto the stage to find the man who had hired him shot - dead on the stage with the letter G carved into his chest. And of course it is downhill from there.
Lawson writes clean, clear crime mysteries, you MAY guess the solution before it is presented to you, I personally gave up guessing the killer(s?) after I read Murder on the Orient Express at the age of 9 - spoiler alert - they all did it, and Poirot would have too given half the chance.

There seem to be a lot of people in this book, but you will meet them again in future books and this sets the frame for their actions in later books. Once upon a time investigators rarely progressed as more and more stories were written for them, There was no referring back to previous events,crimes although sometimes an individual or two, or a town or two would reappear. Now, a writer has to develop a rock solid backstory for all of their characters and then fill that story in as they go through their years of work. We the readers have come to expect accuracy as character move from one book to another, we want to know where they have been, what they have been doing, why didn't that love affair develop - why are they suddenly blonde, not grey?

Lawson packs a lot into the Drayco books, references to classical music which must also be the author's passion because the detail is beyond the amateur pianist, so too is the peppering of this book with those snippets of information which may help you win a pub test such as the poetry of British soldier/Poet Wilfred Owens, Polish cooking and migration patterns of Europeans to the USA after WWII.

As I continued to read, I found no 'fatal' editing errors, of the type that usually make me want to throw a book or in the case of a Kindle - the nearest cushion (there is always one on hand) across the room.

So why 3 stars? Way too many cultural references that meant that on occasion I had nothing to work with - OK, it is NOT important that I know exactly what a Manhattan Special Expresso Soda is, but when not connected to the Internet my Kindle couldn't tell me, nor, did Lawson spell out some of the other US centric terms sprinkled through the Drayco books, I don't care if there is a footnote with a link within the kindle book, or an explanation in the body of the text but for a non USA based reader it became frustrating, and I really HATE skipping over sections because I cannot see the obvious link. In this book, Lawson is relatively light on things like acronyms, but in book 4 he ramps it up - so expect to see my ire if you read that review. ( )
  nadineeg | Aug 22, 2019 |
Well-written and engaging thriller. The protagonist, Scott Drayco, has a chequered background - ex-concert pianist, ex-FBI - and is now an independent investigator. I like the way the author feeds information about Drayco gradually and relevantly while maintaining the energy of the novel.

The story opens with Drayco going to meet a new client at a white elephant of an opera house which Drayco has just inherited from a previous client. His intended brief visit turns into an extended stay when he finds the body of his client lying on the stage, and is drawn into investigating his murder.

One of the areas that makes this book stand out is the quality of the characterisation. There are no cliched cardboard cut-outs. Each is a real person in his or her own right, with their own desires and needs, hidden or overt. They inhabit a small town where secrets are hard to keep and easy to embroider. Because it is a closed in world, quite a few people come under suspicion, but the ending came as a total surprise to me.

I very much enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more by this author. ( )
  Kindleifier | Dec 19, 2017 |
Scott Drayco, ex-FBI, private investigator inherits from a previous client a run-down Opera House in a small town. I liked the character of Scott Drayco because he is someone everyone can relate too. He has terrible nightmares from a previous case, he is tempted but doesn't give in to the town councilman's wife, short on money and thinking about giving up investigating but is having financial problems. In short a real human with real problems.

He arrives in town because a potential client wants to meet him at the Opera House - he's dead in the Opera House.

This town has secrets and more secrets. Ms. Lawson has done a great job creating a twisting, turning mystery that is difficult to solve because of all the secrets.

I really liked the story because it has depth but not all the swearing and sex scenes that a lot of mysteries have in an attempt to make the story more believable. I look forward to more in this series. ( )
  Diane_K | Apr 3, 2017 |
I hope to read more from this author and series. Scott Drayco is a combination of the 1960’s male protagonist detective and a sensitive intuitive artist. He hears and sees sounds as colors, shapes and textures – “chromesthesia “. He reminded me of Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon. ( )
  Bettesbooks | Mar 6, 2017 |
Found as 2015 Shamus Award Finalist. First in series. BOOK not in Merlin. Sample available.Read sample and was not impressed.
  rwt42 | Sep 25, 2016 |
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BV Lawson's book Played to Death was available from LibraryThing Member Giveaway.

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Crimetime Press

3 editions of this book were published by Crimetime Press.

Editions: 0990458202, 0990458210, 0990458229


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