St. Martin's, Feb 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
After spending over three decades on Broadway directing award winning plays Claire Gray at the age of fifty-four changes careers when she is recruited by computer mogul billionaire Glenn Yeats to chair the theatre department at the Desert Arts College in Palm Springs. After three months of working there she is only a week away from directing her first play “Laura”.
She wants everything to be perfect so she and her friend Grant Knoll ask local collector Stewart Chaffee if she can borrow his valuable Australian case clock that will bring much authenticity to the production. Grant and Claire agree to pick it up the next day after Stewart recalls where he placed it, but when they visit the estate, they find Stewart dead. Confined to a wheelchair, it at first looks as if the refrigerator fell on top of Stewart but the police quickly discover it is a murder. There are so many suspects with sufficient motive and opportunity that Claire devises a very clever way to smoke the killer out of hiding.
Michael Craft is a talented, gifted storyteller who is clearly a grandmaster of the amateur sleuth tale. Claire's romance with a student almost half her age feels natural and beautiful, and her ability to connect the dots makes her a realistic detective. Fans of the Mark Manning series also written by Mr. Craft will be delighted to know that he plays a key role in this tale and his nephew Thad makes a cameo appearance in this crafty all in the family production.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner