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BACKSTAGE STUFF by Sharon Fiffer

BACKSTAGE STUFF

By Sharon Fiffer

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-60979-5
Publisher: Minotaur

Anyone can get through a divorce when she has a nice murder to occupy her.

What’s a girl to do when her marriage is foundering, her son is off on an archeological dig with her soon-to-be ex and garage sales, which used to be the highlight of her day, have lost their appeal? Jane Wheel, antiques forager and sometime detective (Scary Stuff, 2009, etc.), is lucky to have Tim Lowry as her best friend. Tim nudges her off the couch to help him stage a play he’s found while organizing the Kendell house sale for the heirs. The three-act melodrama, a stinker written 50 years ago by Freddy Kendell, loses one cast member to a broken leg and another to a falling beam. Almost as serious is the constant popping-up of Mr. Bumbles, a ventriloquist’s dummy beloved by Freddy, and a series of notes signed “Bumbles” that promise dire consequences if the show goes on. In between soldiering through rehearsals and sorting through antiques in the Kendell house, Jane uncovers old playbills and versions of the script, all featuring members of Kendell’s Theater Club, and surprisingly mentioning Jane’s mother Nellie, who took part in the original production. One more will die before Jane, with her mentor Detective Oh’s approval, resolves matters and begins her almost-divorced life with new enthusiasm.

Fiffer seems to be reworking her main characters, shifting their relationships and, in the case of Tim and Jane, making them more conventional and less amusing. Pity.