Cover image for A midsummer night's scream : a Jane Jeffry mystery
A midsummer night's scream : a Jane Jeffry mystery
Churchill, Jill, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, 2004.
Physical Description:
227 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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FICTION Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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All the world's a stage in this delightful new whodunit from the incomparable Jill Churchill -- as suburban mom and sometime sleuth Jane Jeffry and best friend Shelley Nowack try to bring the curtain down on a killer. ...

Jane Jeffry has a new hobby: the stage, specifically a rundown theater that close pal Shelley and her husband have donated to a local college drama department. Students from the nearby college are in rehearsal there for a never-before-produced "magnum opus" written by the company's director, a surefire bomb-in-the-making distinctly lacking in style, wit, and substance. Though Jane's connection is culinary -- helping Shelley handle caterers who will be feeding the actors -- she's soon drawn deeper into the drama than she ever hoped or anticipated.

What a scene it is, with petty offstage feuds and jealousies, ego trips, and power struggles between the clueless director-author and his dubiously talent ed cast. Even the presence of two aging professional thespians -- a lecherous old boozer and his genteel, seriously gifted wife -- does nothing to stabilize a volatile situation. And the plot takes a decidedly darker turn when a particularly rebellious young performer exits stage left -- permanently -- courtesy of a head-bashing killer.

Hark! It's murder, which means it's a cue for Detective Mel VanDyne, Jane's longtime leading man, to get into the act. But Jane and Shelley have their own roles to play in this twisted true-life theatrical, where each member of the dramatis personae has a makeup case full of secrets, masks, and motives. And they'll have to act fast to uncover the villain of the piece before the denouement turns into a real, corpse-strewn, Shakespearean-style tragedy!

Author Notes

Jill Churchill (born Janice Young Brooks) on January 11, 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1965 before teaching elementary school. Between 1978 and 1992, she was book reviewer for the Kansas City Star. She published several historical novels under her real name before introducing a new series in 1989. This mystery series follows Jane Jeffry, a widow with three children in Chicago. With her neighbor and best friend, she gets involved in murder cases. The novel titles are puns on literary works and reflect Jeffry's cozy domestic life which she leads between crime-solving episodes.

Churchill is the winner of the Agatha and Macavity Awards for her first Jane Jeffrey novel and was featured in Great Women Mystery Writers in 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It's summer in the Chicago suburbs, and Jane Jeffry and her best friend, Shelley, are testing caterers on a local theater group, now ensconced in a building Shelley's husband donated to the community college. An enchanting and famous elderly actress is taking part, along with her far less pleasant actor husband. When one of the most irritating of the younger actors is found murdered, Jane, Shelley, and Jane's detective sweetie, Mel, are all swept up in the search for whodunit. What usually charms about this series is the genuine warmth between Jane and Shelley, Jane and Mel, and Jane's three adolescent children. This time there's a little too much teaching in the wobbly plot, however, as Churchill ladles on the details about local theater production and Jane's needlepoint classes. Still, this quiet cozy still has appeal for those who like plenty of daily life mixed with their mysteries. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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?" "Okay." 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. Excerpted from A Midsummer Night's Scream by Jill Churchill All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.