Deadly Director’s Cut (A Catskill Summer Resort Mystery)

Written by Vicki Delany
Review by Vicki Kondelik

This is the second in Vicki Delany’s delightful mystery series featuring Elizabeth Grady, the manager of a Catskills resort in the 1950s. Elizabeth has come to the Catskills to help her mother, a former Broadway dancer, manage the hotel. When Oscar-winning director Elias Theropodous arrives at the resort to film a movie, Elizabeth is glad of the extra income, but dismayed by Elias’s demands. When Elias dies after being poisoned at a dinner for the cast and crew, Elizabeth decides to investigate in order to save her hotel’s reputation. At first it seems the film people had no reason to murder the director, because they all want the movie to be a success, but it turns out that many of them have secrets which would give them possible motives for murder. Elias grew up in the Catskills, not far from the hotel, and Elizabeth begins to wonder if someone in his past is out for revenge.

Delany makes you feel as if you were in the Catskills, with vivid details of life at a summer resort, including the outdoor recreational activities, the dinners, and the entertainment. Elizabeth is a strong protagonist, a woman doing a job that was usually reserved for men in the 1950s. Several guests make negative comments about a woman as a hotel manager, and she fends them off admirably. She also has a complex relationship with her mother Olivia, who left Elizabeth to be raised by an aunt while Olivia pursued a Broadway career. Their shared experience at the hotel has drawn them together. Elizabeth, a World War II widow, has two love interests, a newspaperman and the manager of the rival hotel, but she is hesitant to pursue either relationship because of her disastrous marriage. I look forward to reading future books in the series.