Ben Franklin, spouting fewer aphorisms than before (Benjamin Franklin and the Case of Christmas Murder, etc.), sits through a David Garrick production at London's Drury Lane Theatre when unlikable heckler Dudley Midge tumbles from the balcony and dies. Who pushed him, and does it relate to the threatening notes that Garrick's been receiving? Franklin, accompanied by illegitimate son Nick, reconnoiters backstage, sifts through theatrical gossip and romantic dalliances, and quickly connects two arson attempts with the letters, Midge's death, and the death of actor/playwright Abel Drumm, dispatched backstage in a bit of scene-machinery. There'll be one more death before Ben, busy with his graphology, and Nick, involved with his sketching, proclaim the Drury Lane safe from performers-in-disguise who had sad love stories to avenge. A lively glimpse of noted 18th-century figures, and a tart discourse on the reputations of actresses and women in general. Overall: a pleasurable read for fans of the historical mystery and a possible recommendation for bright YA readers.