Friday, June 10, 2016

The Sound of Murder (An Ivy Meadows Mystery #2)

Author:  Cindy Brown
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781493390045; 9781493390014
Henery Press
256 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $2.99 Amazon
October 6, 2015

Five Stars

All Ivy Meadows wants is to be an actor.  And a private investigator.  Plus she'd really like a pair of clean underwear, a place to stay since her apartment caught fire, and to overcome her fear of singing in public.  Minor inconveniences aside, Ivy might be on a roll.  She's just landed her first real PI case, a seeming suicide in a retirement community.  Not only that, but a big New York producer is coming to Arizona to see Ivy in the world premiere of The Sound of Cabaret (singing nuns AND Berlin burlesque).

But all is not raindrops on roses.  A creep in a convertible is tailing Ivy, a local posse member is way to interested in her investigation, and something is seriously wrong with one of her castmates.  And that suicide -- could it be murder?  As the curtain rises, Ivy finds herself smack in the sights of a serial killer.


Ivy Meadows (nee Olive Ziegwart) begins her day by telling her Uncle Bob she's just managed to set her apartment on fire, leaving her temporarily homeless.  While trying to juggle two jobs - working for her uncle in his P.I. business and act in the local dinner theatre - she is given a great (what she thinks) offer by her friend Marge:  temporarily move into the senior community Sunnydale and house sit for Marge's friend Bernice while she is out of town.  Accepting with alacrity, Ivy thinks everything will be hunky-dory from here on in.  But, as Ivy should already know, nothing in her life is ever that easy...

She's just started seeing the cute firefighter that helped put out the fire.  She has a semi-starring role in the new play, The Sound of Cabaret, which is a conglomeration of The Sound of Music-meets-Cabaret.  She has a beautiful home where she can temporarily live...and a pool to clean, which terrifies her, since she's afraid of water.  Her car keeps combusting at random moments.  Ivy has to sing in front of an audience, and she has a serious case of stage fright.  And, of course, there's the issue of Charlie, the dead guy across the street who committed suicide, but his daughter doesn't think so, and wants to hire Ivy to find out the truth.

After she convinces her uncle to let her accept the case (because he thinks the man did commit suicide merely because he was old and recently lost his beloved wife), Ivy begins her investigation.  But then Marge takes a nasty fall in her garage and has to be hospitalized, leaving Ivy to move into Marge's to stay with her pug Lassie - which also means Ivy has to go next door to Bernice's to water the plants every day - and now she has two pools to contend with - but seems to have an answer to that one at least, since her fellow actor Roger agrees to clean the pools for the occasional home-cooked meal.

Still, Ivy soon realizes things aren't adding up the way they should, and she's convinced Charlie didn't kill himself.  She also thinks Bob's friend Hank may have had something to do with the murder.  Ivy's life has certainly become complicated, and finding out the truth this time might actually force her to confront her own demons...

Ivy wants to have two careers - be a private investigator and an actress, and sometimes has trouble balancing them, not always realizing that in order to achieve a dream that combines two careers, something's always got to give.  She manages to keep it all together - just barely - while trying to multi-task, and it's almost too late when she finally manages to put everything together.  When we finally get to the end, Ivy's disbelief mirrors our own at the reasons why and the callousness of it all.

I really loved this book.  The locations were expressive and realistic; Ivy is a bundle of energy and has a good heart, even though she's forgetful at times.  She wants things to work out for others, but sometimes forgets to take care of herself.  The characters are written singularly well, with their own eccentricities and characteristics.  Ms. Brown has a knack for creating people out of paper and bringing them to life on the page, mixing mystery with humor, which makes for a very good book indeed.  Highly recommended.

More on Cindy Brown's books:                                 

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