An Isobel Spice Novel, Book 1
Joanne Sydney Lessner
Publisher: Dulcet Press
Date of Publication: April 9, 2012
Number of pages: 282
Cover Artist: Linda Pierro
Phones, light typing…and murder.Be sure to check out my reviews of:
Think breaking into show business is hard? Try landing a temp job without office skills. That’s the challenge facing aspiring actress Isobel Spice when she arrives in New York City, fresh out of college and deficient in PowerPoint. After being rejected by seven temp agencies for her lack of experience, Isobel sweet-talks recruiter James Cooke into letting her cover a last-minute vacancy at a bank. New to his own job, and recently sober, James takes a chance on Isobel, despite his suspicion that she’s a trouble-magnet. His misgivings are borne out by lunchtime, when she stumbles across a dead secretary in a bathroom stall. With her fingerprints on the murder weapon, Isobel sets out to prove her innocence by investigating the crime herself. While learning to juggle phone lines and auditions, she discovers an untapped talent for detective work—a qualification few other office temps, let alone actresses, can claim.
The Temporary Detective and Bad Publicity.
I Was a Musical Theater Geek
By Joanne Sydney Lessner
I was a geek before it was cool. Not only was I a bona fide school geek, I was a musical theater geek. It all started with Gilbert & Sullivan, and believe me, when it comes to musical theater, there is no geekier quarter. Just spend some time around a group of G&S fans: it’s like a Trekkie convention, except instead of conversing in Klingon, we pepper our conversation with obscure dialogue quotes like ‘I think—mind I say, I think’ and congratulate ourselves for our ready, encyclopedic knowledge of such details. I say this with the utmost affection for my tribe and as a longtime member of the Blue Hill Troupe, New York’s oldest G&S company. My history with them dates back to when I was six, and I saw their production of The Grand Duke, the least well-known G&S operetta (extra geek points!). I used to tie up my babysitters (figuratively, of course) and make them listen as I sang along with the record to Iolanthe or The Gondoliers. Not for me the “big three” of Pirates, Pinafore and Mikado; I was a pint-sized aficionado. I recall a first grade playground smackdown with some poor boy who was bewildered into defeat by my boast: “I bet you’ve never seen The Grand Duke!”
From G&S I moved on to Sondheim, which is de rigeur for any self-respecting musical theater geek. It started with A Little Night Music, which my clever parents pushed on me, knowing I would respond to its operetta-like feel. Then came Sweeney Todd, which, by the time I saw it on Broadway, I had completely memorized. And then, when I was thirteen, I discovered theater camp, where sports are optional and rehearsals are mandatory. If you’ve ever seen the movie Camp, you’ll understand what a haven it is for those of us who never fit into our high schools’ sports-oriented culture. Ever hear a twelve year-old belt out “I’m Still Here” from Follies with all the world-weary gravel of a life survivor five times her age? At theater camp they may not be a dime a dozen, but they’re hardly unicorns. When I returned to school that fall, having had an actual boyfriend, as well as several leading roles, I’d gained the kind of confidence that only comes from being with others who prize your passion. My years at theater camp culminated in my performance as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with a twenty-five piece orchestra. One friend, who played viola in the pit and is now a prominent Broadway conductor, still maintains it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
The funny thing is, as I pursued my professional performing career, my musical theater geekitude began to fade. Perhaps, like so many aspects of show business, it had to do with timing. I arrived in New York along with the big through-composed pop operas, which didn’t suit my talents the way traditional musical comedies did. And as a teacher of mine once said, “An actor’s job is to audition.” It’s true—performing is the bonus—and when anything starts to feel like a job, it becomes a lot less fun. Especially when it’s a means to an end.
After my son was born, I auditioned for the Blue Hill Troupe, and suddenly I had the opportunity to sing all the roles I grew up practicing on my babysitters. I had returned, full circle, to the specific brand of musical theater—and the very group—I started with. And in one of those strange life coincidences, The Grand Duke was my daughter Phoebe’s first exposure to G&S and the Blue Hill Troupe, when she was three. What was different? I was playing the leading role. What was the same? Another musical theater geek was born.
(E-Book giveaway to the first person who correctly identifies the G&S opera my daughter’s name comes from!)
“I wouldn’t go back if I thought there were an insane murderer on the loose,” Isobel said. “On the contrary, whoever did this was very sane. Let me tell you, I wanted to kill that woman after three hours.”
Delphi looked askance at Isobel. “You…didn’t, right?”
For some reason, Delphi asking her point-blank bothered her less than James’s confused hinting. “Of course I didn’t. But I don’t blame you for asking. You hardly know me.”
“It sounds like whoever did it also wanted to humiliate her,” Sunil mused. “I mean, think about it. Captured for all eternity on the pot!”
“Could it have been somebody from outside who came in, waylaid her in the bathroom, pulled the emergency bell and left?” Delphi asked.
Isobel shook her head. “She was such an unpleasant person that it just doesn’t seem random.”
“Then you definitely should not go back there, paycheck or no paycheck,” Delphi said.
Sunil nodded. “Delphi’s right.”
“You’re sweet to be so concerned, but I’ll be fine.” Isobel smiled. “It was really nice meeting you both. Good luck with everything.”
“I think you need it more than we do,” Sunil said.
As Isobel rode south on the subway, sardined between a bike messenger in need of deodorant and a young mother juggling twin toddlers, she wondered whether to take her new friends’ advice. No job was worth risking her life. But what about the other people at the bank? They were all continuing to show up for work, weren’t they? They had no choice. They all had jobs to do.
Well, so did she. She needed the money. James didn’t have anything else for her, and even if he did, he might not send her out again. She still hadn’t proven herself, not really.
And that was what she had come to New York to do. Prove herself.
Joanne will be giving away the following prizes: At each stop, one ebook copy of her novel Pandora's Bottle, inspired by the world's most expensive bottle of wine.
A grand prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
So follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.
Please make sure to leave your email address so that you can be contacted if you win. :)
Book Tour Info:
Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Book Tour:
Blurb Blitz for The Temporary Detective:
June 10: My Devotional Thoughts
June 11: Straight from the Library
June 12: Sharing Links and Wisdom
June 13: Deal Sharing Aunt
June 14: J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer
June 14: fuonlyknew
Standard tour (includes interviews or guest blogs) for The Temporary Detective:
June 17: The Dan O'Brien Project
June 18: Musings and Ramblings
June 19: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
June 19: Fantasy Powered by Love
June 20: It's Raining Books
June 21: Welcome to My World of Dreams
June 21: Read Your Writes Book Reviews
Blurb Blitz for Bad Publicity:
June 24: Brianna Lee Book Reviews
June 25: Book 'Em North Carolina
June 26: Bea's Book Nook
June 27: Fantasy Powered by Love
June 28: J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer
June 28: fuonlyknew
July 08: Kaisy Daisy's Corner
July 09: Beckstar Reviews
July 10: Read Your Writes Book Reviews
July 12: The Muse Unleashed
July 12: Shelley's Book Case
Joanne Sydney Lessner is the author of BloodWrites Award-Winner and Awesome Indies Mystery Pick The Temporary Detective, which introduces Isobel Spice, aspiring actress and resourceful office temp turned amateur sleuth. Isobel’s adventures continue in Bad Publicity. Joanne’s debut novel, Pandora's Bottle (Flint Mine Press), which was inspired by the true story of the world’s most expensive bottle of wine, was named one of the top five books of 2010 by Paperback Dolls. No stranger to the theatrical world, Joanne enjoys an active performing career, and with her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, has co-authored several musicals, including the cult hit Fermat's Last Tango and Einstein's Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010 as the winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition.
To connect with the author online:
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