Deputy Luke Harper is ready to return as Cherry’s leading man. He’s eager to assist in finding the phantom culprit, but Cherry fears family secrets may doom them to the role of star-crossed lovers. Offstage, Cherry’s searching for her missing brother whose vendetta might doom Cherry and Deputy Luke Harper as star-crossed lovers. With the bully waiting for a murderous encore and her own family skeletons to hide, Cherry scrambles to find her brother and the mysterious texter before the phantom decides it’s curtains for Cherry and forces her to take a final bow.
Cherry Tucker is an artist who is hired by the prestigious Peerless Academy to do set decoration for a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. When she arrives, she finds out that Mr. Tingley, head of the drama department, hired her not only for her skills, but because she has "had some success" in the past with solving murders, and he thinks he's next on a stalker's list. While she is reluctant to try and find out who's stalking him, she needs the money and decides to accept. What she doesn't know though, is that there is more than meets the eye.
The day she arrives, there is a suicide, and what she finds out from this is that someone at the academy is sending the faculty and staff threatening emails. No one wants to talk about it, and Assistant Principal Cooke is downright hostile toward her, so she figures it's best to stay out of Cooke's way. However, in trying to find out who wants to do Mr. Tingley harm, she might also be putting herself in the way of danger.
However, I don't get why Cherry and Luke Harper, her ex-boyfriend deputy sheriff can't date. So what if his mother married a Branson. HE'S still a Harper. He's also an adult, and should be able to date who he wants. He's a Deputy Sheriff, supposedly good at his job but doesn't want to confront his family and tell them it's none of their business? Not a good man to have around in a crisis if he's afraid of hurting someone's feelings.
So you see, the backstory is what kept the main story from being excellent. All this my family/your family stuff from the 1930's probably wouldn't be so today, unless you were really backwoods somehow. (I can truthfully say I've never disliked someone just because I didn't care for their family background). And it distracts from the story, which didn't pick up and get to the heart of the matter until the last third of the book.
Although I believe Ms. Reinhart has a flair for mysteries, and this one was really good, I'd rather see some resolution and have either Cherry or Luke (or better yet, both of them) stand up to their families and to what they want, not what their families want. It might be nice to keep peace in the family, but it sure doesn't help if you're living with someone you really don't want.
Four stars for the mystery, a decent read if you can get past all the ridiculous family dynamics.