Death Takes a Bow (CrabbyPatty’s Review)

Title: Death Takes a Bow (A Detective Heath Barrington Mystery #4)
Author: David S. Pederson
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Release Date: July 1, 2019
Genre(s): Historical, Murder/Mystery
Page Count: 207
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Alan Keyes takes a break from his police duties to scratch his acting itch in a local stage production. But when the leading man is murdered during the opening night performance, his partner Detective Heath Barrington is thrust into the limelight to find the killer. Alan soon learns the theater has a deadly past and ghostly forebodings, including a telegram that seems to have come from the beyond.

Among the large cast of suspects is Oliver Crane, the director whose finances depend on the success of this play, Jazz Monroe, Milwaukee’s sweetheart with a secret, and the handsome actor Henry Hawthorne, who has designs on Alan. When Alan seems to return Henry’s attentions, Heath must put his jealousy and insecurities aside to determine what’s real, what’s illusion, and who’s acting and who’s telling the truth before death takes a bow.

“Death Takes a Bow” drops us into the midst of the dress rehearsal for a Milwaukee theatre production titled “Death Comes to Lochwood.” There’s a rich tapestry of characters here, three of whom share a past that includes a death of a fellow actor and a betrayal, a drunken husband / ingenue wife pair, the harried director who desperately needs a packed house, an actor who may be on the brink of getting a part in a Hitchcock movie, Alan Keyes (making his stage debut in a non-speaking role), the diva’s ward / assistant, and a completely obnoxious Broadway “star” everyone in the theatre had a reason to despise. Toss in a supposed ghost haunting the venue, and David S. Pederson’s latest mystery has plenty of suspects as well as red herrings.

As the book began, I will admit to being somewhat confused by the huge cast, but the pre-opening night cast party scenes helps flesh out the characters, as well as their pasts and motivations. And when the obnoxious actor, Shelby Berkett, is murdered on-stage on opening night, it falls to Detective Heath Barrington and Alan to solve the murder. The plot really explores the full range of motives and opportunities and keeps your interest to the denouncement.

As in past books in the series, Heath and Alan’s relationship is all off-page, but Heath makes an interesting comment about the nature of deception:

Don’t we all do that to some extent or another, Heath? Isn’t that a part of life, getting along?
I glanced over at him, and I knew he was right. I was playing a part right now, keeping my true self hidden, and that was indeed a part of life. Of my life, anyway. And it was necessary for my survival.

But there’s also a lovely scene near the end of the book that puts into words the feelings that Alan and Heath share for one another, but can’t openly share because of the time they live in and their jobs in law enforcement. All in all, an interesting murder/mystery and an apt depiction of the times. 4 stars.

Because there are a million stars in the sky, but you’re the only one for me , the only one I see.

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Galley copy of Death Takes a Bow provided by Bold Strokes Books, via NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader