Foul Deeds will Rise by Elizabeth Ireland #BookReview #BlogBlitz

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.

It's my pleasure to be joining the blog blitz for Foul Deeds Will Rise by Elizabeth Ireland today. Many thanks to the author and to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novel.

As with A Walking Shadow, the previous book in the A Backstage Mystery series, Foul Deeds Will Rise opens with a sudden death. In this case it is Phillip Kincaid who passes away, seemingly of natural causes. In the few chapters in which he is alive, it certainly appears as if he is a man with a serious medical condition but this is a mystery, of course and so it isn't surprising when foul play is soon suspected.
Once again, the events here are told through the now ninety-six year old Lillian Nolan's memoir, written in 1950. Although Foul Deeds Will Rise can easily be enjoyed as a standalone, it does reference the first novel and I would ideally recommend reading the series in order, if possible. We learn that following her traumatic introduction to the theatrical world, Lillian reunited with her family, despite their lingering reticence towards her chosen career. After a short period without work, she joined a touring company where she served her apprenticeship as an actor. It's really interesting to see how Lillian's character evolves over the years in which the story takes place and how she changes from being a naive young girl into a assured professional who takes every opportunity to learn how to best hone her craft. Those with a knowledge of Shakespeare's plays will recognise the title of the book as a line from Hamlet and after Lillian meets and befriends the celebrated actress, Regina Ellicott, she is given the role of Ophelia. The production is set in her home town of Chicago and it means she is able to live with her beloved grandmother.
After Phillip Kincaid's death, his widow, Regina is arrested on suspicion of his murder. Lillian desperately wishes to clear her friend's name but she has other pressing issues to deal with too, including concerning financial matters affecting her grandmother and the upcoming nuptials of her oldest brother. Her terrifying encounter with the spirit world previously means she has worked hard to suppress her abilities and it means there is less of a paranormal feel to this book. Nevertheless, the spirits still find ways of communicating with her and there are little hints of someone beyond our mortal plane who wishes to make their presence known throughout the story.
The mystery of who killed Phillip is intriguing but I felt it is the development of Lillian's character which really makes Foul Deeds Will Rise so compelling. She is a young woman determined to make a success of her career, despite it being considered an unworthy choice for somebody of her class. During the course of the novel she makes some important discoveries about who she is and what she wants from her life and inevitably makes some mistakes or errors of judgement as she tries to make sense of a world she is still learning about. Her personal and professional life are both affected by events in the story and readers are reminded that it was a very different time for women of the age who risked being condemned harshly if it was discovered that they had behaved in a way not considered lady-like. Lillian's resolute strength of character stands her in good stead but I appreciated that she does make potentially unwise choices which could lead to her risking her reputation - and indeed, her life.
Foul Deeds Will Rise is atmospheric, convincing historical fiction set in a world which is fascinating to read about and authentically brought to life. I enjoyed the smaller domestic elements of the story as much as the more obviously exciting scenes and the mystery of Phillip's death never becomes the sole focus of the book, complemented throughout by Lillian's honest, often wry recollections of her past.  This is an excellent second book in a series I am thoroughly enjoying and I look forward to reading the third novel, Forms of Things Unknown very soon.

Foul Deeds Will Rise can be purchased from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog blitz, details are below.

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.
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About the A 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 a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.