By 1875, Lillian Nolan believes she has successfully shut off any connection to the spirit world. That winter she is thrilled when she wins the role of Ophelia in a new production of Hamlet in her home town of Chicago. Everything changes when the body of the managing director is found sprawled across the steps of the dress circle and all the investors’ money is missing. Lillian fears, once again, her career is over before it begins.
After her dearest friend is arrested for murder, Lillian commits herself to discovering the truth. Her search is complicated by a strange man who is following her, the romantic overtures of her co-star, and a reunion with an old nemesis. But nothing is what it seems. What she does find puts a member of her own family at risk and leads to the unmasking of the killer with lethal consequences for herself.
THE BACKSTAGE MYSTERY SERIES
Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.
Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theatre. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.”
The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.
In 1875, Phillip Kincaid, managing director of Ellicott’s Theatre, disregards the odd physical symptoms he has been having when he goes up to the dress circle to watch the end of a performance of Hamlet, starring up and coming actor, James O’Neill.
Arthur looked over the audience of the theater and saw that almost everyone was focused upon the stage. O’Neill was an actor with substantial talent and ability and he was using every ounce of it to his advantage in the scene. He performed Hamlet’s sword fight with the actor who portrayed Laertes with grace and great athleticism.
They watched enthralled. The crash of swords, the cries from those onstage, and the gasps from the audience members, forced them to place their complete attention on the play as one after another of the royal family of Denmark died onstage in a vision of Renaissance death that was loud, dramatic, and completely enthralling. Along with the rest of the audience, Arthur and Marion were mesmerized.
Phillip watched as well. Pleased, he knew he had made the right decision about O’Neill. Then all at once, a mind-numbing pain shot through the center of his chest and he found he could not breathe. His entire body felt as if it were clamped in a vise. Sweat poured down his face. Wrapping his arms around his chest gave him no relief. What the hell is happening to me?
He tried to call out, to reach out to Arthur but the noise from the stage was so loud and he simply could not form the words. Pain pulsed through him once again and he doubled over in agony. At the very instant he thought he could not take one more moment of it, the pain stopped, the vise miraculously released and he fell back into his seat and slumped over to the side. A long sigh escaped from his body and the world went dark for Phillip Kincaid.
Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theatre early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theatre, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theatre History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.
She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.
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