Midsummer Night's Scream (Jane Jeffry Series #15)

( 3 )


Jane Jeffry has a new hobby: the theater––specifically, a rundown theater that close pal Shelly and her husband have donated to a local college drama department. Jane has graciously agreed to lend her taste buds to the college's newest production, helping Shelly judge prospective caterers who will be feeding the actors. But soon she's drawn deeper into the real life drama surrounding the play than she ever hoped or anticipated.

The cast is embroiled in petty, off–stage ...

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Jane Jeffry has a new hobby: the theater––specifically, a rundown theater that close pal Shelly and her husband have donated to a local college drama department. Jane has graciously agreed to lend her taste buds to the college's newest production, helping Shelly judge prospective caterers who will be feeding the actors. But soon she's drawn deeper into the real life drama surrounding the play than she ever hoped or anticipated.

The cast is embroiled in petty, off–stage jealousies, ego trips and power struggles, all of which are further fueled by the clueless, blowhard director. Even the presence of two aging professional thespians––a lecherous old boozer and his genteel, seriously gifted wife––fails to bring a sense of decorum to this train wreck of a production. And the plot takes a decidedly darker turn when a particularly rebellious young performer exits stage left––permanently––courtesy of a head–bashing killer! Now Jane and Shelly have their own roles to play in this twisted, true life theatrical where each member of the dramatis personae has a make–up case full of secrets, masks and motives.

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Editorial Reviews

Oklahoma City Oklahoman
“Churchill’s prose flows easily, proceeding with suspense and humor to a satisfying conclusion.”
Publishers Weekly
Single mom and amateur sleuth Jane Jeffry unmasks a bad actor in Churchill's entertaining 15th punningly titled cozy (Mulch Ado About Nothing; Silence of the Hams). The Chicago-area snoop joins friend Shelley Nowack in checking out caterers to feed the volunteers working at the theater that Shelley and her husband have recently bought. The current play is suffering from writer/director Steven Imry's poorly written script and off-putting manner, while the cast of mixed students and professionals, led by veteran stage actors John and Gloria Bunting, isn't much help. Jane and Shelley connect with the genial Gloria, who enthusiastically joins their needlepoint class. The other actors are mostly ciphers, until the violent death of one brings Jane's police boyfriend, Mel VanDyne, onto the scene. For the first time, Jane finds that Mel is actually seeking her insights, since the theater crowd is unknown to him and Jane and Shelley have met them all. Churchill has her formula down pat, mixing a more than serviceable plot with a nice combination of romance, domesticity and sleuthing. Lessons in needlepoint lore and technique and in catering dos-and-don'ts add interest. Agent, Faith Childs. (Nov. 1) FYI: Churchill is also the author of It Had to Be You (Forecasts, Feb. 23) and four other mysteries in her Grace & Favor series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Murder takes the spotlight during a rehearsal, and it's up to Jeffrey to save the play. Agatha- and Macavity Mystery Readers Award winner Churchill lives in a Midwestern suburb. Kansas City regional author appearances. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060501006
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/25/2005
  • Series: Jane Jeffry Series, #15
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 620,787
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Churchill has won the Agatha and Macavity Mystery Readers awards and was nominated for an Anthony Award for her bestselling Jane Jeffry series. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed Grace and Favor mysteries and lives in the Midwest.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

A Midsummer Night's Scream
A Jane Jeffry Mystery

Chapter One

Jane and Shelley were on their way to pillage the grocery store. It was the hottest, most awful July week anyone in the suburbs of Chicago could remember. Jane, who was driving, had a long list of things to acquire. She'd planned out a whole week of cold salads for herself and her kids Mike, Katie, and Todd. Hearty, interestingly shaped pastas, lots of good veggies, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and chicken to pile upon huge amounts of crisp, cold lettuce, accompanied by big pitchers of iced tea, a twelve-pack of V8, and soft drinks. Frozen fruit desserts. Even Popsicles.

It would only entail one miserable early morning of boiling and sautéing and running up the air-conditioning bill. Then she wouldn't do any real cooking at all until there was a relatively cool day.

"What was wrong with that space right in front of the exit door?" Shelley complained as Jane cruised the grocery store parking lot.

"A beat-up car was next to it. That's the sort of person you don't want to park next to. They don't care about the condition of your car because they don't care about their own.

"You don't intend to park way down the street, where we have to run the carts half a mile and then bring them back, do you?"

"Nope. See the space between the Mercedes and the Land Rover? That's where we want to be-next to people who care about their automobile's well-being."

When they came out of the store, each of them had four bags in her cart. They put them in the back of Jane's Jeep, which she'd equipped with a clear plastic sheet to prevent spills staining the carpet.

"Jane, you're more protective of this Jeep than you were of your children."

"Yes," Jane admitted.

When Jane pulled into her new driveway, noting how nice it was not to have to dodge the horrible pothole anymore, Shelley asked, "What have you heard about your manuscript?"

"You're not supposed to keep asking me about it. I'll tell you later, when we've sorted out which bags belong to each of us and put away the food."

"I haven't asked about your book for a full month. I've kept track," Shelley said, then added, "I have something to talk to you about, too. A new project for us to try out."

Jane almost groaned. In a couple of years they'd be stay-at-home mothers without children at home anymore. They had tried out several jobs and hobbies they had thought would be interesting and profitable. They'd taken on knitting and gardening and took a lot of classes. They'd even attempted to be wedding planners. None of which had claimed their hearts. Jane half feared that if she sold this book and continued to write mysteries, Shelley might not have found a job she also loved.

On the other hand, she might still be able to work with Shelley -- most writers probably managed to have a real life and do other things, she assumed.

They managed to sort out which bags were Jane's and which were Shelley's, and when they started taking them inside, Shelley called across their adjoining driveways, "We'll talk about your book and my project over a good dinner out."

"Why would we go out to dinner when we have three tons of food?"

"Because Paul's out of town examining the books of one of his franchised restaurants. He thinks they're fudging the numbers. And all our kids are going to the swimming pool and eating there this evening. You don't want to cook for yourself and neither do I."

"You have a good point. Chinese?"


A Midsummer Night's Scream
A Jane Jeffry Mystery
. Copyright © by Jill Churchill. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining police procedural

    Jane Jeffrey and Shelley Novak have been neighbors and best friends for years and now with their children grown they have time to do any project they want to for fun. Shelley¿s husband bought a run down theatre thinking he can renovate it and use it for storing food supplies but it wasn¿t cost effective so he donated it to the community college¿s theater department. Shelley is in charge of hiring different caterers for the rehearsals, a job she wants because she hopes to find some good companies that would cater Shelley and her husband¿s business affairs.--- The cast detests the nasty uncouth director- playwright Steven Imry. When one of the actors, Denny Roth is murdered everyone wants Imry accused of the crime, but lead detective Mel VanDyne (Jane¿s long time lover) has no evidence to arrest the man. Mel asks Jane¿s opinions about the various cast members. When the janitor is attacked, Mel instinctively knows that it is the work of the same person who killed Denny, but remains at a total loss for a viable suspect until he finds a safety deposit key that unlocks all the secrets that are needed to solve the case.--- Between helping Shelley audition caterers, watching the play several times, working on her book and taking stitching lessons, the protagonist is a busy person. Mel plays a prominent role as the audiences sees things from his point of view as well as that of Jane. Jill Churchill has written an entertaining police procedural that emphasizes finding the killer as much as it does on the daily activities of Jane and Shelley. Fans of this series will thoroughly enjoy this charming work.---Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2009

    Ah! Jill Churchill is Back to Her Good Quality!

    This book was great. It was a relief after the poor job of the last one. This story has all of the characters and plot that I look forward to in the Jane Jeffry series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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