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Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.
When I finished reading MacDeath, I downloaded Ivy’s next two adventures. In The Sound of Murder, Ivy’s theatrical career becomes even wackier, as she plays sixteen-year-old Teazel in “The Sound of Cabaret,” a mash-up of, you guessed it, “The Sound of Music” and “Cabaret.” Well, they’re both set in Germany in the 1930s, aren’t they? Ivy’s just glad to have a dinner theater gig, while she works days at her Uncle Bob’s PI office, Duda Detectives (try saying that while introducing yourself). And a house sitting gig, since she set fire to her apartment, and it will be under repair for a couple of months. Even if that gig includes taking care of a swimming pool, not an easy job for someone with a water phobia.
And then there’s the suicide next door, who turns out to be connected to the theater, the lead actress who can’t remember her lines, Ivy’s own problems with singing in front of an audience, that guy with the mirror sunglasses, and the hot fireman she met when her apartment combusted. Just another hot day in Phoenix—whoops, is that Ivy’s car catching fire again?
This is a very entertaining series. I've just started reading the third book, Oliver Twisted. I hope there will be more.
In the second Ivy Meadows mystery, Ivy soon becomes embroiled in mysteries and murder when she's lucky enough to house sit in a elderly community. As she scrambles to find answers after a neighbor is found dead, she wonders how much the answers will cost her and who will be there for her. I highly recommend this second one in the series and anticipate the third!
Sequels often earn a bad reputation. In "series" authors I am all to used to the first book not having a strong enough character to truly carry through a series. Cindy Brown has not only done a great job in carrying the character through but given her more heart and vitality in this installment I cannot recommend this romp higher. It is just plain fun...especially for anyone who has been involved with the theater. While the amateur sleuth (Ivy) may still be learning her trade the difference between this book and her first will show the reader that Brown has definitely established herself as an author worth reading. I enthusiastically await the next in the installment.
Another good book in the Ivy Meadows series. I like the theatrical theme. Ivy bounces back and forth between her assistant private detective duties and her part as a nun in a play. There is always adventure and lots of action. I like the characters the author has created. This installment finds her house sitting. As soon as she arrives, she finds a dead body. It's fun to follow her train of thought as she tries to uncover the murderer.
With my preference for more hard-boiled mysteries normally I'd be the wrong audience for this series, but Cindy Brown easily won me over with a great cast of characters, especially her lead character, Ivy Meadows, and the humor that runs through the book. Ivy comes to fully to life and pulls you through the book, making "One more chapter" your mantra when you should be going to sleep. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
Ivy is fun-loving and lovable. She reminds me of a certain family member who almost has it together most of the time. The mysteries (I've read the first two) are worth investigating, and the author's clever way with words makes it all very enjoyable. Who came up with the idea of mashing THE SOUND OF MUSIC with CABARET? Too, too funny!
This book was a lot of fun to read. The characters were recognizable, but not stereotypical. Setting, suspects, and complicating factors were well thought-out. But even if I hadn't liked all of that, the premise of the mash-up play would have made me happy enough! I want to see that show.
Twenty-something Ivy Meadows is very much a work in progress. She has a lot to learn as a private investigator (a nun's habit is far from a perfect disguise), as an actress (she has trouble singing on key if there are more than five people in the audience), and as a sister (she loves spending time with her younger brother Cody but can't always keep her schedule straight).
"I am easily distracted. It's not that I'm fluttery or nervous. It's just that so many interesting things tend to happen at one time. It's one of the reasons theater is good for me. I can't be distracted during a play— I have to stay in character and focused on the people onstage with me. My distractibility is both a good thing and a bad thing when it comes to PI work. Good, because I observe and collect a lot of information. Bad, because once I learn something new, the old piece of information goes into a mental file cabinet where it languishes among dusty folders until something reminds me to pull it out again."
If there's one skill that Ivy Meadows has mastered, it's the ability to make me laugh…and sometimes cringe with recognition. Anyone who has worked on a theatrical production will recognize Cindy Brown's pitch-perfect depiction of backstage egos, insecurities, and petty jealousies. Any serious musical theater buff will appreciate the totally silly (and scarily plausible) premise of Ivy's current show.
"The Sound of Cabaret used the Germanic pre-World War II era settings of both the original musicals, and then combined the plots and characters. In the new show, feisty postulant Mary is sent to teach singing to the dancers at the seedy Vaughan Katt Club. Her secret agenda, of course, is to save their souls and return to the nunnery, but along the way she falls in love with the owner of the club, Captain Vaughn Katt. The captain is like a father to his ragtag troupe of dancers, and a hero: he is actually hiding them–all of them Jews– in plain sight by disguising them as performers. When the Nazis find out, the captain, Mary and the Jewish dancers escape over the mountains in borrowed nuns' habits."
The musical numbers in the show would all feel at home in "Forbidden Broadway."
“WHAT GOOD IS STRUTTING YOUR STUFF ON THE STAGE?” Even in the parking lot I could hear Marge singing the familiar tune of “Cabaret.” Everyone could. That woman could belt. “Come HEAR the organ PLAY.” The song blew my hair back as I opened the stage door. I trotted down the hall. “Eternal life AWAITS you, FRIEND.” Marge stood in the greenroom, arms wide, inviting the whole world to…“ Come to the CABA— nunnery!”
Marge Weiss (aka Arizona's Ethel Merman) can still belt out her songs if she can only remember the words. And she still makes quite an entrance.
"It was the first time I'd seen Marge in anything but a tracksuit. She may have been sixty-something (or seventy-something if the rumors were true), but she was dressed to the nines in a body-skimming red number and, I suspected, some heavy artillery undergarments that made her generous proportions look Rubenesque. Her skirt swished over red patent leather heels, and her mouth was painted crimson. Marge was a curvy gal, but she worked out and it showed: trim waist, defined arms, muscled legs. She also suntanned. The entire effect was a great-looking mannequin made of leather."
Ivy's powers of observation are all there, but she faces challenges in other areas of her personal and professional life.
"Before I got back on the road, I wrote myself a reminder to get a new fire extinguisher. Seemed like my car was catching on fire more often these days."
"Theater… gave me a place where I was encouraged to express my emotions, where I felt appreciated, where I was part of a “family.” But theater was not necessarily conducive to long-term relationships. Not only did it come with all the baggage Jeremy had talked about, there was a bigger problem. If I wanted to make it big in theater, I’d have to leave Arizona."
"Uncle Bob knew my heart belonged to the theater. He also believed this kept me from being serious about detective work. He was wrong there. I really wanted to be a detective. And an actor. Why should one preclude the other?"
While Ivy's distractibility might sometimes be trying for the people in her life, her heart's in the right place, she's negotiating her tumultuous twenties as best she can, and "so many interesting things" tend to happen to her at once that it's well worth following her progress.