(40. - 1179.) - I Only Read Murder by Ian Ferguson and Will Ferguson - Miranda Abbott, faded “actress extraordinaire” is furious when her agent, Marty Sharpe, advises her that she was passed over for a role in the reality television series, The Real Has-Beens of Beverly Hills. He tells her:
“Producers of reality TV are looking for flamboyant unstable delusional narcissists.”
Despite strong evidence to the contrary she is not narcissistic enough.
Furious to be offered a Metamucil commercial in which she would play the grandmother, insults are hurled and she no longer has an agent.
Broke and without work her bad awful day continues with furniture being re-possessed and an eviction notice served to leave her apartment. Her personal assistant, Andrew Nguyen, unpaid for months, is ready to give notice. A cryptic postcard arrives and Miranda is off to Happy Rock, Oregon via Greyhound bus.
Miranda had starred in Pastor Fran Investigates, a crime drama T.V. series in which she solved mysteries with each episode featuring her Sinner-B-Gone ™ karate chop.
The unusual book title is revealed when she arrives at the I Only Read Murder bookstore in Happy Rock. Miranda had convinced herself that the postcard saying “It’s been fifteen years. I think it’s time” from Edgar (a fine name for the owner of a mystery bookstore) was a call to resume their marriage. Alas, Edgar says it meant it’s time to divorce.
Desperate to try to win Edgar back and learning he is deeply involved in the Happy Rock Amalgamated & Consolidated Little Theatre Society, Miranda auditions for the lead female role in its tenth annual production of Death is the Dickens.
A significant proportion of the community comes to watch the auditions. None recognize the star among them.
At this stage of her life Miranda is star oblivious to those around her rather than the condescending imperious diva of younger years.
It was clever to have Miranda reach a modicum of understanding that she is now a member of the real world.
It turns out there is a greater diva in Happy Rock. Annette Baillie, a buxom realtor whose smiling face and personal motto “You bet, Annette” adorn benches throughout the community, drives her pink Cadillac to the auditions. She proclaims:
“... I said to myself, I am from Happy Rock, and I have always considered this theater my home. I must come, I thought. I really truly must.”
Happy Rock is too small for these two divas. Los Angeles might be too small.
There is murder and Miranda turns her inquiring mind to solving the murder and reconciling with Edgar.
As Miranda applies the deducting skills she learned over several seasons as Pastor Fran there are several nifty twists before the killer is revealed.
It is hard to maintain an over-the-top atmosphere for a whole book. The Fergusons’ succeed, though the plot was strained during the abundant rehearsals of Death is the Dickens. All rehearsals are attended by a good number of local residents.The story flows easily. I Only Read Murder is excellent diversionary fiction. I was glad there was more satire than sarcasm. There are witty comments and observations throughout. Miranda is a fine character. It would be a good read over the Christmas holidays.