Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Murder in the Second Row by Bev Robitai

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Photographer Bev Robitaille spent much of the 1980s and 1990s in Nelson, heavily involved in local theatre. When her first murder mystery was published recently (under the name Robitai), she returned to Nelson to launch the book at the Theatre Royal, the inspiration for the fictional ‘Regent Theatre’ of her story.

Theatre manager Jessica Jones is trying to keep the historic t going, under attack from mounting repair bills, fickle audiences, and developers and councillors keen on bulldozing the landmark building in order to put up a modern shopping mall that could bring business to Whetford, a fictional regional centre that echoes many aspects of real-life Nelson. Hope rests on the upcoming production of Agatha Christie’s ‘Appointment with Death’, but preparations are thrown into chaos when young harlot Tamara Fitzpatrick is found dead in the theatre during rehearsals. In true showbiz fashion, the show must go on, and Jessica has to juggle the production, a police investigation, her attraction to one of the detectives, and an escalating series of crazed threats being made against the theatre.

Robitai’s first effort is a well-constructed ‘cosy’ mystery of the Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh style, filled with a cast of interesting character and a few plot twists. Her theatre setting is a real strength - she evokes the details and atmosphere very well, giving readers a nice ‘peek behind the curtain’ - and she has a smooth writing style that keeps the pages flowing.

This review was originally published in the January 2011 issue of WildTomato magazine

You can purchase an electronic version of MURDER IN THE SECOND ROW (in a variety of formats - Kindle, html, .pdf etc), for US$3.90 from Smashwords (see here).

Do you like the sound of MURDER IN THE SECOND ROW? Do you enjoy mysteries based around the theatre? Thoughts and comments welcome.


  1. Craig - One of the things I always like about your blog is the way you introduce me to new-to-me authors. This does look intriguing and sounds like a good read.

  2. I liked this book a lot - light and fun and definitely 'got' the theatre vibe