Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Docketful of Poesy by Diana Killian

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Docketful of Poesy by Diana Killian. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Docketful of Poesy by Diana Killian

by
A Poetic Death Mystery with Grace Hollister

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-97-9 (1880284979)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-97-1 (9781880284971)
Publication Date: April 2009
List Price: $14.95

Review: Former school teacher and English poet scholar Grace Hollister returns to England as screenwriter where the filming of her own book is taking place in Docketful of Poesy, the fourth mystery in this series by Diana Killian.

Grace had left England for California after doing research on the poets of the Romantic Era. Her research also included various adventures including meeting a mysterious former jewel thief named Peter Fox (essentially the first three books of this series). She's combined all this information into a book, a memoir if you will, that her publisher has titled Dangerous to Know, not her first choice for an academic tome. An unknown film company, Kismet Productions, has purchased the rights to the book and plans a direct-to-cable movie. Grace had assumed the film would be a documentary, but instead it seems to be developed as a sexy, action movie. Filming begins in Hollywood before moving to England's Lake District where Grace had lived while doing her research. When the screenwriter adapting the book accidentally dies by a hit-and-run driver, Grace is asked to step in. But she finds the death suspicious and "once Grace gets her teeth into a puzzle she never lets go."

To mix metaphors here, reading Docketful of Poesy is like walking in on the middle of what seems to be a very good movie. It's really a wonderful story, with everything a mystery fan would want: a suspicious death, a beautiful setting, endearing characters, witty banter, an unexpected link between disparate events, a tentative (or maybe not so tentative) romance. And yet there's a sense that the reader has missed something, that the book would have been so much more meaningful, more enjoyable, had the first three books, or any of the previous books, been read before this one. It's not that enough background material wasn't presented; it's just that there seems to be inside information simmering beneath the surface that first time readers aren't cognizant of. On balance, Docketful of Poesy is a terrific mystery, but readers familiar with the earlier exploits of Grace Hollister will probably like it even more.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Docketful of Poesy and to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Synopsis (from the publisher): "Theater of the Absurd" takes on a whole new meaning when former high school teacher and literary scholar Grace Hollister is hired as a script doctor for a straight-to-cable film production of her own academic exploits. Although the film's budget seems boundless, almost no one in the cast or crew seems to have any experience making movies. It would almost be comical in a Woody Allen sort of way ... until history repeats itself for real, and it's curtains for one of the cast.

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