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Stagestruck

Cover of Stagestruck

Stagestruck

Peter Diamond Mystery Series, Book 11
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Pop diva, Clarion Calhoun, has packed the house with a celebrity appearance in Bath's Theatre Royal production of I Am a Camera. But within moments of her much-anticipated onstage appearance, she's pulled out of character as she screams and claws at her face.

When tainted stage makeup is found to have caused the disfiguring burn, fingers point to her makeup artist. Detective Peter Diamond investigates when the makeup artist is found dead, pushed from a catwalk far above the stage. As Diamond digs deeper, he uncovers rivalries among the cast and crew and is forced to confront his own mysterious and deep-seated theatre phobia to find the killer.

Pop diva, Clarion Calhoun, has packed the house with a celebrity appearance in Bath's Theatre Royal production of I Am a Camera. But within moments of her much-anticipated onstage appearance, she's pulled out of character as she screams and claws at her face.

When tainted stage makeup is found to have caused the disfiguring burn, fingers point to her makeup artist. Detective Peter Diamond investigates when the makeup artist is found dead, pushed from a catwalk far above the stage. As Diamond digs deeper, he uncovers rivalries among the cast and crew and is forced to confront his own mysterious and deep-seated theatre phobia to find the killer.

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  • Chapter One

    'People keep asking me if I'm nervous.'

    'Really?'

    This week's star attraction gave a broad smile. 'Believe me, anyone who's played live to a million screaming fans on Copacabana Beach isn't going to lose sleep over this.'

    'Right.'

    'As if a first night in an itsy-bitsy provincial theatre is going to make Clarion Calhoun wet her pants.'

    But the face told a different story. The woman waiting to apply the make-up watched the confidence vanish with the smile and spotted the tell-tale flexing of the muscles at the edge of the mouth. Clarion was outside her comfort zone. Acting was a different skill from pop singing. Because of her inexperience she was getting special treatment from the Theatre Royal. Almost all professional actors do their own make-up. This one couldn't be trusted to create a simple nineteen-thirties look with nothing more technical than a Cupid's bow and kohl-lined eyes.

    She was getting the nursemaiding in spades. 'You'll be a knockout. They love you, anyway. A lot of the actors who come through here have it all to prove. You've got it made.'

    'My fan base, you mean?' Clarion looked better already.

    'Every ticket sold, they tell me.'

    'Right through the week. The management are over the moon.'

    The dresser unscrewed a new jar of cold cream and picked up a sponge. 'Your day make-up is gorgeous, but it won't be seen under the lights. Do you want to remove it yourself?'

    'Go ahead. I'll think about my lines.'

    Clarion meant the lines in the script, not her face. A few more of those were revealed as the cleanser did its work. She was past thirty and her days as a rock star were numbered. Time to revamp her career. She was playing Sally Bowles in a new production of I Am a Camera. With her name on the billing, it was almost guaranteed a transfer to London later in the year.

    A thin layer of moisturiser went on.

    'Remind me of your name,' Clarion said. A touch of humanity.

    They'd met before the dress rehearsal, but frequently the leads treated everyone backstage like furniture.

    'Denise.'

    'So, Denise, how long have you been doing this?'

    'Working in theatre? Most of my adult life.'

    'Here in Bath?'

    'No, I've moved around. If I can be personal, your skin is marvellous.'

    'It should be, all the money I spend on treatments. Is that the colour you're going to use on me?'

    'The foundation.'

    'I don't want to look as orange as that.'

    'Trust me. You won't.'

    'What is it -- greasepaint?'

    'Glycerine-based cream. It's going to feel dry. That's why I used a base of moisturiser.'

    'I may sound like a beginner, but this isn't the first play I've been in. I was drama trained before I got into the music scene or I wouldn't have taken this on. I always promised myself I'd get back on the stage.'

    Denise passed no comment as she smoothed on the foundation, working it down the neck and as far as the cape.

    'Do you want to put some on my front? I wear that really low gown in the second half and a little extra shadow in the right place would be all to the good.'

    'Later. I'll finish your face first.' She did the shadowing and highlighting. Then she used a plump rouge mop to brush on some powder.

    'May I see the result?' Clarion asked.

    'Not yet, if you don't mind. Eyes and lips make all the difference.'

    In another ten minutes Clarion was handed the mirror. 'Hey! Transformation. Sally Bowles.' She switched to her stage voice. 'How do you do, Sally? I'm terribly glad to
    meet you.'

    There was also some nervousness in the audience. Towards the back of the stalls, Hedley...

About the Author-
  • Peter Lovesey is the author of more than thirty highly praised mystery novels. He has been awarded the CWA Gold and Silver Daggers, the Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement, the Strand Magazine Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards, and many other honors. He lives in West Sussex, England.

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Stagestruck
Peter Diamond Mystery Series, Book 11
Peter Lovesey
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