Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Made Up to Kill: Review

Made Up to Kill is the first in what would become the Jeff and Haila Troy series by Kelley Roos (husband and wife team, Audrey Kelley & William Roos). This debut novel takes place before Jeff and Haila are married--though Haila is working hard on getting Jeff to commit. Haila Rogers has landed a part in a Broadway production of the British drawing room comedy "Green Apples." She has also acquired a roommate in the person of the young co-star, Carol Blanton. Carol's performances in rehearsal promise a hit on opening night--but then disaster strikes the company.  

Carol has an attack of laryngitis and her star-struck understudy is thrilled to think that she's finally going to get her big chance. She's the only one who is thrilled because the understudy is nowhere near the actress that Carol is. A last-minute recovery allows Carol to perform after all...in what is nearly her last performance of all time. Someone added a near-lethal dose of morphine to Carol's drink in the last the act and only a quick trip to the hospital saves the actress for future roles.

The very next night the leading lady is stabbed to death while wearing Carol's cloak in the dark and shadowy area backstage. It definitely look like someone is determined to get rid of the young actress. The police are doing all they can--following up mysterious notes from someone named Lee Gray; guarding Carol night and day; following the members of the cast; interviewing everyone--but the play's producer thinks that more can be done. He promises Jeff Troy a big check if he can discover who has decided to eliminate his actresses. 

This is a fun romp through the theatrical world of the late 1930s/1940. Lots of eccentric characters with idiosyncrasies to help muddy the waters and keep the reader guessing. Jeff and Haila traipse all over New York City following up clues and questioning the cast. And there are plenty of clues to follow--Kelley Roos plays fair with the reader and mystery buffs should be able to untangle most if not all of the plot. I have a couple more of these waiting on the TBR pile and I am looking forward to them with great anticipation!  Four stars.

This fulfills the "Set in the US" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo card. First Bingo on the horizon!

Challenges Met: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Cruisin' Thru the Cozies, Bookish TBR, Century of Books, Outdo Yourself, Adam's TBR Challenge, How Many Books, My Kind of Mystery, 100 Plus Challenge, Book Bingo, A-Z Reading Challenge, 52 in 52 Challenge


fredamans said...

Never heard of Jeff and Haila before but they sound like fun characters! Great review!

TomCat said...

Good review! The pseudonymous tandem of "Kelley Roos" has been a favorite of mine for years, alongside John Dickson Carr and Herbert Resnicow, and this was a very auspicious beginning. They hadn't found their voice yet and therefore not as good (or as funny) as the classic The Frightened Stiff or the excellent Sailor, Take Warning!, but still better than most debuts I have read.

Bev Hankins said...

Yes, TomCat, an excellent debut novel--that's part of the reason I ranked it with four stars (I debated that...because I knew from your blog and others that they had written better ones). I thought such a good first book deserved a little bit extra.

Ryan said...

I so want to read this one now, and I love that cover.