Pulling Back the Curtain on Backstage Activity

In live performances, behind the scenes activity is generally not seen by the public, and that’s probably a good thing. As a theater actor, i know how many long, tiring hours go into rehearsing and developing a play and the relationships between characters. I also know there are lots of issues that must be resolved that audience members should not know about, because it could ruin the illusion of the piece.

For example, I was in a play that required a gunshot at the end. The decision was made not to have a gun backstage, so a sharp thwack on a wall with a board was used to simulate the sound. Needless to say, the entire illusion was blown, wood hitting wood or flooring in no way sounds like a gunshot. The next day my husband went out, got a starter pistol, and we used that for the remainder of the run…much better theater experience for the audience.

Sometimes it’s an unexpected happening that has to be quickly resolved. This happened in another play when I had an accident backstage. Some of the scenery was left in a different place, in an unlit area backstage. Rushing to a quick change, I ran into the object, ripping a huge gash in my arm. With just a few seconds I grabbed some fabric to fashion a quick tourniquet and hurried back on stage to complete the scene. After the scene ended, I was able to obtain a better solution and finish the show.

There have been some more dramatic issues, like the night we lost all power just before the second act was set to begin. At the insistence of the audience, we performed using flashlights and one big spotlight. Our audience said it was the best performance they had ever seen. It helped that we were doing a murder mystery. Then there was the time we were forced to perform outside of the theater (a convoluted issue between the theater and the politicians). Things were going great until it started raining. Stop the show? Never. We got umbrellas and finished the show in the rain.

So, it was great fun for me to read a book that was written about a music comeback tour. The story focuses on the head of publicity, the producer, an investigative reporter and a missing star. Here’s my review.


What a fun read, full of interesting characters and some details on the work that takes place behind the scenes of a rock concert tour. The characters are briefly sketched, with more details offered in the few chapters that are written from that character’s point of view. The primary protagonists are Danny, an investigative reporter who now works in radio and Daisy, head of publicity for the music tour that is bringing rock star Martha out of retirement. They are working closely with a police task force from Scotland Yard who, in turn, gets help from some international police forces.

The reader is quickly made aware that the rock tour is a vehicle for some illegal activities which are being committed by the promoter, Novak who is working with an international crime boss, Baka. Both Novak and Baka have long been in the sites of a special organized crime task force at Scotland Yard, and the head of this force is willing to work with Danny and Daisy as they seem to have an inside track.

Early in the book, Martha is kidnapped by Baka in the attempt to get Novak to agree to different terms for the illegal activity in which he has become involved. Danny and Daisy’s top priority is finding Martha, while the police are more interested in the organized crime angle. There is duplicity on all sides, with everyone agreeing to be open and transparent, but then holding back information from the other parties.

The book moves at a quick pace which is accomplished in part by the short chapters and the short sentence structure that help the reader increase their reading speed. There is considerable intrigue as Danny and Daisy, along with several others, try to locate Martha and try to understand  Nowak’s place in the organization. The intrigue pulls the reader along without relying on unnecessary cliffhangers and tension to maintain interest in the book. It is easy to read, and the writing encourages the reader to read “just one more chapter’ before putting the book down.

Overall, it is an interesting, well written action thriller. It is easy for the reader to see the places as well as experience the action, which increases the enjoyment of the book. The descriptions of the characters are more detailed in terms of emotions and behaviors than specific appearances, allowing the reader to create their own image of the various people in the book.

For the most part the conclusion is satisfying up until the last page. On the last page the author throws in a huge cliffhanger that leaves the reader with the feeling that in order to find out the result, they will have to read the next book. I have no objection to leaving some issues “open-ended”, allowing the reader to craft their own results for some issue; but I dislike having something added in the final page or two of a book that clearly creates a set-up for an entirely new drama for one or more of the characters of the current book. Unlike relationships that develop over the course of several books in a series, this is a ploy that seems to put one or more of the characters in jeopardy, then abruptly stops, leaving the reader no choice but to read the next book to find and resolve the next issue. Different readers have different responses to this type of writing. In general, I stop reading the series because it seems there may be no real end in sight.

My thanks to Matador Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about. Of course, you know I hope you read, but let me take this opportunity to encourage you to support your local community artists. I’ve moved around a lot, and one thing I’ve learned is that no matter the city or town, there are probably some very talented people who are spending many hours preparing to entertain you. Go, support your local theater, your local musicians, your local comics and spoken word artists. I think you’ll enjoy it. In between shows, don’t forget to pick up a book. Happy Reading.