A pleasure today to be joining the blog blitz for Forms of Things Unknown by Elizabeth Ireland: the third in the Backstage Mystery series, this book’s now available both for kindle and in paperback from Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation, and for her excellent support. I’m rather sorry I couldn’t fit this one into my reading list – history, mystery, theatre plus a touch of the paranormal looks really intriguing…
Recently returned to Chicago after a successful tour of Hamlet, Lillian Nolan is awakened in the dead of night by a strange voice. She is shocked to learn that well known and admired actress, Louise Hawthorne, has fallen to her death from the sixth floor of the Tremont House. Was it an accident? Did she jump or was she pushed? Louise’s former lover, and the main suspect, pleads with Lillian to uncover the truth and clear his name.
In the process of learning to trust her intuitive abilities, Lillian attempts to find balance between relying upon her gift and uncovering the truth in her own way. But the menace of death pursues her and soon her own life is at risk. When she finds herself in a trap from which she cannot escape, her only hope of survival is to call upon the metaphysical world.
Forms of Things Unknown is based on an actual event which occurred in June of 1876 in Chicago. It is the third standalone book in the Backstage Mystery Series.
And just a little more information about the Backstage Mystery Series…
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 theater. 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 period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.
So I’m sorry, no review this time – but I’m delighted to share an extract:
In the summer of 1876, Lillian Nolan, actress and sleuth, goes backstage at The McVicker’s Theatre during the intermission to see fellow actor, James O’Neil and finds him in an argument with Louise Hawthorne, who is found dead later that night:
The dressing rooms were off of a hallway that was only attainable by traversing a spiraling iron staircase. These I managed without running into anyone, and when I happened to look back, I saw Anne Reed pacing back and forth in the backstage area. She did not see me and I continued up the stairs.
Jimmy’s dressing room was down a short hallway and designated by his name printed on a card and stuck in a brass holder on the door. I was just about to knock when I heard his voice on the other side of the door. It was raised in anger. He was not alone.
“I can’t deny what we shared,” he stated heatedly.
Louise Hawthorne’s voice pleaded, “I don’t want to be known as just another one of your conquests.”
O’Neill’s voice again, “Can we not talk about it later? I am in the middle of a performance for God’s sake.”
I know I should have left at this point but I could not help myself. I leaned into the door to listen more closely.
“It doesn’t have to be like this, Jimmy,” Louise cried.
“No. It does not, Louise.”
Then Jimmy said something I could not hear. The next voice I heard was Louise’s and it appeared that she was furious with him.
“Alright. Alright,” she cried. “But I’m leaving the city in the morning and I must have an answer.”
“You’ll have it,” he shouted. “But later. Alright?”
“It will have to do, for now,” Louise said threateningly.
I heard movement and stepped back and into the dressing room right next to Jimmy’s, leaving the door slightly ajar. Thank God it was empty. The next thing I heard was the sound of Jimmy’s dressing room door being slammed. I peeked out and watched as Louise stormed by. Her shoulders were set and her face looked quite furious.
I stepped into the hallway. For a moment I debated about whether or not I should knock on Jimmy’s door when I heard the crash of some breakable object as it hit the wall inside the room. I decided the wisest course was to forego the visit. I would try again after the play was over. I turned just in time to see Louise rush down the steps of the winding staircase.
Yes, rather like the look of this one – wishing Elizabeth every success with the series…
About the author
Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theater early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theater, 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 Theater 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.