In the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book Robitai writes
To all those who toil tirelessly in theatres everywhere, especially the past and present members of Nelson Repertory Theatre Inc. and the Theatre Royal Trust.
I’ve borrowed many of your finer attributes for the most likeable characters in this book. The nasty ones are of course entirely fictional. (And remember, I had to save some good characters for future books.)
The story is made up but the setting is the real Theatre Royal just as she was before the latest refurbishments, with all her quirky little nooks and crannies.
Like many amateur theatre groups the Whetford amateur dramatic society decides to stage a play that will have wide appeal, written by a "classic" author. Their choice is APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH by Agatha Christie which they hope will be popular.
Right from the start there appears to be someone who is determined that the show will not go on. The theatre itself is under threat by a local property developer who goes into print emphasising the antiquated nature of the building. Somebody keeps shoving cryptic notes on purple paper through the side door and even attempts to burn the building down.
None of the incidents are potential show stoppers until the death in the second row.
I enjoyed the bits of humour, the touches of romance, and the occasional "tributes" to Agatha Christie.
'Yes, right under our noses. Haven't you noticed how Gert looks just like Miss Marple? She may not hail from St Mary’s Mead but I bet she has a shrewd grasp of human nature.' 'Better her than that bloody little Belgian git. Hercule Poirot always annoyed the hell out of me,' said Gazza. 'Such a smug, self-righteous windbag.' ....
'Well, most of the old girl's murders were motivated by sex or passion, weren't they?' said Howard. 'Human nature hasn’t changed much since she wrote her novels, just the world around us. Fewer servants, for one thing.' .....
'Forget C.S.I., give me good old Agatha Christie. Leave it with me, Jack – I shall apply my little grey cells to the problem and try to come up with a solution for you some other way. It'll be the human element that's the key, you know. Motive is everything.'
MURDER IN THE SECOND ROW which appears to be sub-titled "Are you sure we can’t advertise for a tart?" is an enjoyable read made all the more so by the fact that it is carefully constructed and filled with interesting characters.
A good read for those of you who like a good cozy and have an e-reader.
(reviewed 11 months after purchase)