Part-time actress and part-time private investigator Ivy Meadows (her stage name) gets to work both her jobs when she is hired to determine who or what is causing a number of accidents in the roadshow of Wizard: A Space OZpera, including the dropping of a large chandelier on the Wicked Witch of the East. Ivy goes undercover as the understudy for the company. One of the show’s leads is Ivy’s best friend Candace (Candy) Moon. But Candy has changed since moving to Los Angeles to make it in showbiz … she appears to be on an unhealthy diet program and Ivy can’t seem to connect with Candy at all to talk about it.
When Candy goes missing Ivy isn’t sure if Candy is involved, or if she’s a victim.
This is such a fun series. Cindy Brown’s theatre mash-up productions are always a delightful riot and in this volume we have Ivy, as understudy, wearing a costume too large or too small (ah…the trials of being an understudy) revealing a little too much of herself while doing some aerial acrobatics. We also have Ivy working in yet a third profession, as an aerial artist at an Exotic Art Phantasmagorical Spectacular … which everyone around her refers to as the Erotic Art Show. That’s not exactly how Ivy wants to build a serious career.
The mystery itself is strong (though slightly contrived) and I really appreciate a book that can be a part of a series but where you don’t have to have read all the books in sequence to understand or appreciate what is going on. This works as a stand-alone mystery.
The characters are a delightful combination of laugh-out-loud funny and yet real people (especially if you’ve spent any time working in or around theatre (especially smaller theatres). The Munchkins are delightful and an oddball group(“The munchkins/flying monkeys looked like space-age Oompa Loompas, and creepy monkeys with jet packs…”) but the rallying camaraderie of theatre folks is still here. But I did miss Bob Duda of Duda Detectives in this book. He’s become a steady fixture for Ivy (and for me), though I recognize that this book was a step in her making it on her own s a detective.
All in all, a lot of fun and a mystery worth reading.
Looking for a good book? The Phantom of Oz by Cindy Brown is a truly delightful cozy mystery full of theatre backstage antics and friendships.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Phantom of Oz
author: Cindy Brown
series: An Ivy Meadows Mystery #5
publisher: Henery Press
paperback, 262 pages