Cursed in the Act (Bram Stoker Mystery)
by Raymond Buckland
Cover Artist: Bill Angresano
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425268018
Date: 07 January 2014 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Henry Rivers, our point of view character, is the stage manager at the Lyceum Theatre, London, working with Bram Stoker, who is the business manager. Henry Irving is the owner as well as the principle actor. Any play with Irving in it tends to be a draw for theatre goers and so the Lyceum is doing quite well.
The Lyceum Theatre has a rival, the Sadler's Wells Theatre. Naturally, it's believed that the theatre with the best actors and the best play will pull in the biggest audience. But it seems that someone is trying to stack the deck in the favor of Sadler's Wells. It began with Henry Irving being poisoned. A consummate actor, Irving went on with the play in spite of his illness. However, this incident was only the first in a series of serious attempts to destroy the Lyceum's season and its reputation.
While billed as A Bram Stoker Mystery, Stoker is actually more of a behind the scenes type detective as he sends Henry Rivers out to speak to people and gather clues and report back to him. Building a mystery using actual historic characters means that events in the story must take place in the context of actual events in the character's lives and the time in which they lived, Buckland does a wonderful job of fitting his story in these spaces.
Cursed in the Act has enough red herrings, plot twists, misdirection, and historical content and context, to keep readers interested and intent on finding out what will happen next. A great start to a new series of historical mysteries featuring Bram Stoker.