Book Review: Peak Season for Murder by Gail Lukasik

Peak Season for MurderPeak Season for Murder
A Leigh Girard Mystery #3
Gail Lukasik
Five Star, September 2013
ISBN 978-12-4328-2729-8

Door County, Wisconsin, is a vacation spot known for art galleries, live performances, and trendy restaurants. It’s a place where the well-heeled summer people and tourists meet with the locals who live there year round. Leigh Girard, Door County Gazette reporter, is investigating the death of a formerly homeless man, Brownie Lawrence. Brownie’s friend, Ken Albright, is accused of his murder, and while Leigh attempts to prove his innocence, she discovers Brownie had assumed another man’s identity.

The Bayside Theater is a Door County institution, and this season’s cast seems to be shadowed by a past mystery. Twenty three years ago local actress Danielle Moyer vanished after starring in a play. Her body was never found. Nina Cass, the theater’s owner and actress, has hired her ex-husband, actor Nate Ryan, for the season. Ryan, who was one of the players when Danielle Moyer disappeared, is out of rehab and still a heartthrob but his good looks are fading. Former ballerina Gwen Shaw is also one of the players, along with Shakespearean stage actor Julian Finch, and young actress Harper Kennedy.

Leigh is interviewing the cast members for an article, but a series of misfortunes haunt the theatre. On the opening night of the first play, a swarm of bats converge on the stage, causing Gwen Shaw to trip and break her arm. During rehearsal for “Merchant of Venice,” a real knife is substituted for a prop, and Julian is cut.

This is the author’s third Leigh Girard mystery. She has a wonderful feel for language and uses it well to describe the characters and the setting, but doesn’t neglect the plot. Leigh is a character with a lot of backstory, but it is revealed a little at a time, as you come to appreciate her perseverance and curiosity.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, October 2015.