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Book Review: A Murderous Summer at Bard

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What's really going on in the rarefied circles where college presidents and deep-pocketed donors wine, dine, and deal along Millionaires' Row? Possibly only the live-in help knows for sure. But in the Hudson Valley of Glenda Ruby's imagination, its labyrinth of secrets is rich organic soil for Murder Most Foul.

A Murderous Summer at Bard stars intrepid design expert and real estate dabbler Lindsey Brooks. In her city days, Lindsey helped law enforcement retrieve smuggled artwork. Upstate, with her finger on the pulse of the East Shore smart set, she's acquired a butler named Bennett and reconnected with her NYPD detective buddy, now Columbia County sheriff, "over white corn at a farm stand."

We join Lindsey watching donors being wooed by Bard's Theater Department, mingling with the young cast of "Henry V" in tights and doublets. Mean-girl drama that breaks out between Grand Dames Cassandra and Francesca is nothing compared to opening night, when the Bard at Bard is upstaged by a Grande Dame being poisoned, a student stabbed, and a CIA chef bashed in the boathouse. Lindsey and her friends follow twisted skeins of money, sex, and resentment to put the pieces together.

Ruby's dry, sly wit makes Lindsey great company on this journey into the wild side of the high life. The first in her Hudson Valley Mystery series was Death at Olana, and fans of classic murder mysteries will be well served indeed if she keeps overturning such elegant rocks.

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