The novel is a bit more graphic and horrific than most mysteries. But this works in its favor. Lee is the perfect heroine, imperfect enough to be interesting - yet accomplished and intelligent enough to be believable. She works, along with the entire theater milieu, to create a mystery that is involving and surprising. Terry Lowe
"The writing is tight and precise, the characters amazingly detailed and believable, with their back-stories intricately weaving in and out. It is one of the really thrilling mysteries I've read, mysterious to the very end ... and scary enough that I did not want to read it when I was alone." Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, ReaderViews
It is Lee's ultimate struggle with loneliness and an overloaded professional struggle that brings the story to its shocking climax.Don't start this wonderful story if you have something else to do, because this fantastic plot will win the fight! A big thumbs up!! Shelley Glodowski, Midwest Book Review
"With a whole troupe [of actors], there are plenty of suspects. Backstage details have authority; Lee's story is effectively told." -- Akron Beacon-Journal, Barbara McIntyre, July 22, 2007
From the Publisher
Butcher of Dreams is a gripping suspense thriller set in the 1980's Hell's Kitchen when porno shops, girlie shows, prostitution and crime ran rampant. With this seedy and ominous off-Broadway theater district as the backdrop, Lee Fairchild is attempting to start a repertory theater in an abandoned burlesque house. Not only is someone or something threatening the future of the theater (Lee's dream-come-true), but this force threatens her very existence. Who is responsible for the ritualistic sacrifice on the third floor of the theater? Is the stolen Aztec mask and its ancient curse somehow connected to the bizarre events? Who is the psychopath/sociopath behind the destruction that begins to affect the entire company? Lee's mercurial cast members and stage crew become suspects as events begin to spiral out of control. The authors' command of the English language as well as their knowledge of literature adds both nuance and interest to this well-plotted white knuckle read.
Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of the complexity and drive of those who pursue theater as a career--actors, directors, playwrights--and a new respect for what they do for love.
Kay Williams is a professional actress who has played leading roles at theaters around the U.S. She has acted in radio, television, and films, and has worked behind-the-scenes as an assistant producer with an award-winning independent filmmaker in New York City. When acting roles began to dry up, she turned to writing, collaborating with Eileen Wyman, who'd had a career in radio/television and success as a comedy writer.
Kay and Eileen decided their first effort would be a story about the theater, and about New York City--in fact, about their fascinating, seamy, grimy, scary neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen, where a number of small off-Broadway theaters eked out an existence in the eighties.
Their collaboration has been a success. Butcher of Dreams was selected as the best mystery/thriller/suspense book of 2007 by Reader Views Annual Literary Awards. It also won their Book of the Year Award, competing with books in 50 categories. It was a 2011 Global E-Book Award Winner in the Best Thriller category, and has been honored as a Finalist in the E-book: Mystery/Thriller/Adventure category in The 2012 USA Best Book Awards! It has been adapted into a screenplay.
Kay and Eileen continue their writing collaboration, having just completed a thriller about filmmakers competing at the 1991 Leningrad Documentary Festival against the chaotic backdrop of a disintegrating Russia.
Kay is also a co-author of One Last Dance: It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love, a romance novel started by her late father, Mardo Williams, when he was in his nineties, and finished by Kay and her sister Jerri Williams Lawrence, a writer and editor. The book won a Best Regional Fiction Award from the Independent Publishers Association and was a National Readers' Choice Award Finalist. Kay and Jerri were awarded the Ohioana Library Association's 2009 citation for "unique and outstanding accomplishment in the field of writing and editing" for finishing One Last Dance.
I thoroughly enjoyed Butcher of Dreams with its picture of 80s off-Broadway theater and its dabbling in Aztec cults and lore.
Trusting Lee Fairchild, empathetic Alan Dunbar, and their third partner crusty Ernst Kromer open a repertory theater on 42nd St. in NYC with a foundation grant. From the moment they begin rehearsals, disturbing events take place and seem to conspire against them. One after another each actor in the theater falls under suspicion as the potential perpetrator.
Looking at the story from the perspective of 2007, one might wonder how Lee could be so trusting and innocent until one remembers that the story is set in the 80s before identity theft and sociopathic behavior were much in the news.
I found the book increasingly difficult to lay down, especially as the second half came into play. The authors have achieved a quite satisfying novel of mystery and suspense.
BUTCHER OF DREAMS is a mystery-suspense book set in a struggling off Broadway theatre in the days when 42nd Street was home to pimps, prostitutes, homeless and drug dealers. They all play a part in this fascinating story which combines the pragmatic problems of a group of players with the mystical magic of masks, masqueraders and Mexican folklore. Figuring it out is only half the fun - the page by page power and pace is even more rewarding.
This "who done it" mystery grips the reader from the start with its cast of possible villains, but beyond that, the authors have created main character Lee Fairchild with whom everyone should be able to identify. In her heart Lee knows of whom to be weary, but because of her emotions, she finds the best in all of her colleagues. How many of us have faced the same dilemma? De-Nile is not just a river in Egypt, but a real, if ineffective, coping device of human beings, and vulnerable Lee falls into the chasm of denial, causing her to justify behaviors of others rather than face them head-on. Even as I worried over her physical safety, I related to the emotional stresses she faced, making her seem "real" rather than a character in a novel.
Besides the effective characterizations of Lee and her colleagues, the authors have written a book that offers insight into the world of theater that I never knew existed. It has given me an enhanced appreciation of the "art" of theater and has encouraged me to support repertory theater productions within my community. Plus, the novel is simply good reading, one that's hard to put down. Just as the cover grabbed my eyes, the words grabbed my passion for reading. Don't miss this book!
Kay Williams and Eileen Wyman team up for this suspenseful mystery/romance. Williams is a writer and actress with ONE LAST DANCE: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO FALL IN LOVE, a novel begun by her father, journalist Mardo Williams and finished by she and her sister, Jerri Lawrence. Published in 2005, DANCE garnered a Best Regional Fiction Award and a finalist nomination for the National Readers' Choice Award. Eileen Wyman is a comedy writer and has experience in radio and television. Both authors live in Hell's Kitchen, now safe and gentrified, but are originally from Ohio.
Lee Fairchild is a recent widow who has picked herself up by launching a under-budgeted theater in Hell's Kitchen on the fringes of Times Square with an old friend. The theater is almost immediately plagued with problems when a derelict is found murdered in a cult-like slaying on the third floor of the theater. A young man named Michael Day wanders off the street and into Lee's life as an assistant and lover. But Day's excess of spending and propensity towards lying, as well as his grand romantic gestures, keep Lee from seeing that someone is robbing the theater blind:
"'Bounced?' Lee stopped sorting the mail. The phone cradled in the hollow of her shoulder slipped. She caught it at her rib cage and wrestled it back to her ear. 'That's our new account.' No new exactly. She'd opened it at the beginning of the season, along with the other two. But that was the first check she'd written from it. 'They showed me the notice.' His voice rose indignantly. 'Insufficient funds. It came in their mail this morning.'"
Williams and Wyman put together a first-rate suspense.Read more ›
I loved it. I was pulled immediately into the tension of the mysterious and frightening events. The behind the scenes life of the theatre and the complex personalities who staff it create a fascinating setting as the mystery develops and the suspense becomes unbearable. Suspicion as to the perpetrator builds in many directions and I found myself wanting to talk to the lead character, Lee Fairchild, to advise her. Eventually I sucumbed. I ignored the world around me and read to the end nonstop.
Butcher of Dreams is a terrific read. The authors expertly fulfill the requirements of the classic mystery: grisly crime, many suspects, edge-of-your seat suspense. The setting for the novel is an abandoned Hell's Kitchen burlesque house in the 1980's where a fledgling Off-Broadway repertory company is rehearsing for their first show, a perfect venue for the bizarre events that ensue: strange accidents, grand larceny, Aztec curses, ritualistic murder. I was drawn to Lee Fairchild, the likeable main character & the theater's administrative director. Her quirky but believable professional colleagues with overblown egos & murky pasts add intrigue and momentum. That a psychopath seems to be lurking amid the company only intensifies the mix. An edge-of-your-seat reading experience, well-written & precisely crafted. Highly recommended!