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A Jane Jeffry Mystery

By Jill Churchill

Avon, November 2005, paperback ($6.99)
ISBN: 0060501006

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

"Jane and Shelley were on their way to pillage the grocery store."

When I read that first sentence, I knew I wouldn't be able to put the book down until I'd read every page through to the very end.

Jane's friend Shelley is "auditioning" new caterers for her husband's business meetings by trying them out at the local community theater. Shelley enlists Jane's help as a "food taster." Jane is reluctant to commit to attending rehearsals every night because she hates "amateur" actors. She thinks they all over-act and shout their lines so they can be heard in the very last row of the theater. She knows this from experience. She took a class in theater when she was in college. On the other hand, it's hot -- the hottest week in July and the building is air conditioned...

As is true of many small community theaters, the players are not necessarily good actors, but they put their hearts into it.

Professor Imry, the director -- make that Director, with a capital "D" -- is also the scriptwriter. He has written an awful play. It's supposed to be a mystery but several key elements are missing. Rehearsals and some of the off-stage antics are enough to make even the most even-tempered person want to commit murder.

In this case, someone does. Commit murder that is. And as any amateur sleuth worth her reputation would do, Jane and Shelley set about solving the whodunit and why.

I'd sort of lost track of the Jane Jeffry series somewhere around the middle of the fifteen books published but I can't resist a story that involves the theater, whether it be on stage or back stage, so I quickly grabbed a copy of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SCREAM in anticipation of a rollicking good read. And I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed.

It's not an easy task to keep writing cozy murder mysteries featuring a "suburban homemaker" (Jane), her longtime romantic interest (Detective Mel VanDyne), and a seemingly never-ending supply of nasty people who need killing but Jill Churchill manages to do just that. She keeps Jane well supplied with murders and mysteries that need solving. It's quite an enjoyable series and I'm glad that I picked up a copy of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SCREAM. I think I'll go back to the titles I've missed in the series and read them as soon as possible. I'd even like to try reading Ms. Churchill's other popular series, Grace & Favor.

This is the fifteenth book in Churchill's Agatha award-winning Jane Jeffry series. Unfortunately only one of our reviews of her previous books survived our most recent computer crash. Please click on the title below to read the review. She is also the author of six books in the "Grace and Favor" series.

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