The careers of New York City detective Simon Ziele and his former partner, Captain Declan Mulvaney, went in remarkably different directions after the tragic death of Ziele's fiancée in the 1904 General Slocum ferry disaster. While earmarked for bigger things, Ziele moved north of the city to escape the violence, and Mulvaney dug in deeper, heading up the precinct in the most crime-ridden part of New York.
Yet with all of the resources at Mulvaney's disposal, a puzzling crime compels him to ask his former partner for help. A chorus girl has been found dead on a Broadway stage dressed as the lead. There is no sign of violence. The coroner would call it a suicide, but then she'd be the second actress to die that way in only days.
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
1. Discuss the meaning(s) of the title A Curtain Falls.
2. Charles Frohman is a real historical figure credited with inventing the "star system" that shaped early Broadway (and was later used in the Hollywood studios of the 1930s and 1940s). What are the rules of his system? How do they infuse an environment already marked by greed, ambition, and jealousy?
3. At the heart of any series is the continual emotional development of the principal characters from book to book. Which character grows the most in this book? How?
4. In addition to serving as a physical location, the Broadway theater is almost a character is its own right. Does this setting add to the novel? What kinds of details bring it alive?
5. The essence of theater is the blurred line between appearance and reality, truth and lies. In what ways does this theme lie at the heart of A Curtain Falls?
6. The author depicts many representations of family, relationships, and the nature of grief. How do characters compensate for absence and loss? Which are the most successful? Why do you think that is?
7. Detective Ziele struggles with his newfound knowledge when he discovers Timothy Poe's true situation. Did you find his struggle true to his character and time period?
8. What is your favorite scene in the book and why?