Final Curtain: An Edna Ferber Mystery

Written by Ed Ifkovic
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

The fifth in a series of mysteries featuring the skills of this amateur sleuth and full-time playwright has Edna Ferber fulfilling a dream of trotting the boards as the matriarch of The Royal Family. It is the summer of 1940, with the clouds of war hovering over the one-week-only production in the bucolic New York City suburb of Maplewood, New Jersey. Edna’s sidekick is her director and co-playwright, George S. Kaufman (he of the “Cliffs-of-Dover pompadour”). The focus starts on the production and Edna’s trepidations, but soon shifts to an investigation as a young understudy is murdered and all signs point to a young stagehand named Dakota, who is yoked to an evangelical church ministry. Edna and George slowly realize that other members of the cast and crew are interwoven with the dead man during the past two Hollywood generations. When a young Nazi is also killed, and threats about curbing Edna’s investigation intensify, the pressures of both opening night and justice converge. A great wise-cracking team, Ferber and Kaufman brighten every scene of this cozy-styled mystery. Their eccentric personalities brighten the proceedings on every page.