art's "The Old Deep and Dark: A Jane Lawless MysteryAfter dead bodies are found inside the historic theater her best friend recently acquired, Sapphic sleuth Jane Lawless is required to investigate. Will Jane break a leg or crack the case?

When it comes to detective work, dick Jane Lawless knows how to mind her p’s and cues.

Act 1, Crime Scene 1: The Thorn Lester Playhouse, past and present. Jane’s best friend, Cordelia Thorn, is the artistic director of a speakeasy turned theater turned…catacombs? The victims will turn over in their graves if Cordelia doesn’t turn the case over to Jane.

Lawless might not live up to her last name, but someone else certainly does, and when the curtain calls, Jane answers, even though she is already committed to investigating the murder of a closeted country crooner. As she delves into this double homicide in the Twin Cities with her father as her scene partner, Lawless works to determine if the role of the killer has been double cast—or if the performer doesn’t take a shine to sharing the spotlight. Whodunit? The histrionic historian? The queer janitor? The singer’s spouse? Or perhaps it was the spouse’s personal assistant, Badass Beverly, who longs to play her employer’s love interest.

In addition to probing this variation on character assassination, Jane must consider whether her leading lady Avi, who, like the state bird of Minnesota, is a common loon, is really right for the part. It’s plain Jane has superlative sleuthing skills. Similarly, you’ll find that the author’s talent is hardly susceptible to suspicion—and you don’t have to be a property mistress to give props to Ellen Hart.

Plausibly plotted and sufficiently suspenseful, with a cast that presents plenty of stage presence, this book enters from and exits stage right. If you’re searching for a novel mystery to read, The Old Deep and Dark fits the playbill. It’s an experience that will do your Hart good.

Get it on Apple Books