Shadow of Reality, by Donna Fletcher Crow (StoneHouse Ink, 2010)
When college professor and mystery-lover Elizabeth Allerton convinces her good friend and colleague Richard Spenser to attend a week-long mystery role-play in a castle-replica-turned-hotel in the Colorado Rockies, she never dreams she’ll find a real murder—and love.
The guests work in teams to solve a mysterious death, acted out over dinner their first night. They come prepared with period costumes for 1930’s England, and the costumes Elizabeth rented for herself and Richard turn them into a dashing couple.
Trouble is, while he wants them to be a couple she’s happy with friendship. And she meets the man of her dreams in one of the mystery’s actors.
An even bigger trouble is her discovery of a genuine dead body. A storm has cut off access to the nearest village, and those in charge try to keep the real mystery quiet until the police can arrive. Elizabeth and Richard work to solve both mysteries, and the two keep blurring in her mind.
Shadow of Reality is an easy read with plenty of attention to costumes and food, and sprinkled with references to classic British characters like Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence. The romance element is at least as strong as the mystery. There’s also a spiritual thread, as Elizabeth reconnects with the faith she learned as a child.
Originally published in 1992 as Castle of Dreams, the novel was released as an ebook in 2010 and a new print version is available for pre-order. Shadow of Reality is the first in the Elizabeth and Richard mystery series. The ebook is available in multiple formats at Smashwords or for Kindle or Nook. The paperback copy is coming out in 2011 and you can pre-order it at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Donna Fletcher Crow is also the author of the Monastery Murders series and a number of other novels. You can find Donna (and a full listing of her books) at her website. She also blogs at the Deeds of Darkness; Deeds of Light blog.