Five Star, Nov 2003, 25.95
In 1898 Apple Creek, Ohio, Lillian Barlow learns that her brother Eli died in a freak accident on his showboat, the Jubilee Palace. Eli's lawyer informs Lillian that she inherited the showboat. The showboat is deep in debt. Still Lillian persuades her reluctant adult children, college librarian Gwen Barlow and hard good store worker Preston, that they need to move to Hickory Bend, Missouri to manage the boat.
In Hickory Bend, Gwen ends up taking charge of the showboat as her mother cannot handle anything negative and her brother is Stagestruck with one of the performers. Gwen quickly realizes that several people had the motive to murder Eli as she agrees with the constable that a homicide occurred. Gwen wonders if one of the performers, the workers, the townsfolk, or the handsome captain she just hired to run “Eli's Folly” killed her uncle.
Readers will enjoy this engaging historical amateur sleuth tale that emphasizes the Mississippi River at the end of the nineteenth century. The who-done-it is cleverly worked to the pleasure of mystery readers. The strong characters whether the troupe or the townsfolk are a delight especially the embattled Gwen. However, STAGESTRUCK is a winner due to Cynthia Thomason making 1898 Missouri seems vividly alive.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner