It was the site of one of the most infamous assassinations in American history. Now bestselling mystery master Margaret Truman premieres a new murder at Ford's Theaterone that's hot off todays headlines.The body of Nadia Zarinski, an attractive young woman who worked for senator Bruce Lerner and who volunteered at Ford's is discovered in the alley behind the theatre. Soon a pair of mismatched cops,young, studious Rick Klieman and gregarious veteran Moses Mo Johnson start digging into the victim's life, and find themselves confronting an increasing cast of suspects.There's Virginia Senator Lerner himself, rumored to have had a sexual relationship with Nadia and half the women in D.C. under ninety. . . . Clarise Emerson, producer/director of Ford's Theatre and ex-wife of the Senator, whose nomination to head the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is now threatened by the scandal . . . Jeremiah Lerner, her aimless, hot-tempered son, said to have been sleeping with Nadia when his famous father wasn't . . .
The spirit of Chandra Levy hovers over Truman's latest Washington, D.C., mystery (Murder on the Potomac, etc.), which, despite a sometimes confusing plot and little suspense until the climax, should be as successful as other recent entries in this durable series. When the body of congressional intern Nadia Zarinski turns up outside the stage door of Ford's Theatre, D.C. police detectives Mo Johnson and Rick Klayman, who happens to be a Lincoln buff, are assigned the case. Nadia worked in the office of Senator Bruce Lerner, ex-husband of Clarise Emerson, head of Ford's Theatre and nominee for chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Once Clarise determines with Klayman's help that her son, Jeremiah, was the last to see Nadia alive, she appeals to former attorney Mackensie "Mac" Smith to represent him. But there are other suspects as well: theater controller Bernard Crowley; aging, past-his-prime British actor and artistic director Sydney Bancroft; and Senator Lerner himself. Mac and his police cohorts find these ambitious power seekers an unpleasant lot. As usual, the location takes center stage, and the fun lies in seeing how the author uses the national landmark in the service of the drama. In this case, the Lincoln theme pulls th plot threads together and brings weight to the proceedings. The performance may be a bit contrived, but fans will enjoy the show. (Nov. 19) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from Murder at Ford's Theatre by Margaret Truman
Travel guides claim that the average high temperature in Washington, D.C., in September is seventy-nine degrees Fahrenheit. But on this particular Tuesday, the day after a long Labor Day weekend, the thermometer read eighty-one at seven in the morning, which meant ninety was a possibility by noon, a hell of a time for Johnny Wales's air conditioner to decide to crash. It had ground to a halt sometime during the night; it had to have been between two in the morning when Wales returned from a night of drinking with his buddies, and five a.m. when he was awakened by the sound of the vintage window unit seizing up.
He rolled his sticky body out of bed at seven and stood in front of an oscillating table fan, raising his arms to allow the moving air to wash over his nakedness. Understandably, his mood was palpably foul; his mutterings were mostly four-lettered as he poured orange juice, washed down a handful of vitamins, and entered the shower. The weather was bad enough, and you couldn't do anything about that. But Bancroft's early crew call at Ford's was arbitrary. What was the big deal? he wondered as he readjusted the faucets to add cooler water to the mix. It was only a teenage drama workshop production.
As he moved about getting ready in his room above an army-navy store on Ninth Street, not far from the Capitol City Brewing Company, the final stop on last night's toot, and only a few blocks from Ford's Theatre, where he'd been employed as a stagehand for the past two years, his size--six feet four inches tall and 220 pounds--made the cramped studio apartment seem smaller. He pulled on a faded pair of blue jeans, Washington Redskins T-shirt, slipped tan deck shoes over bare feet, attached a black fanny pack to his waist, and checked himself in the mirror. Building and erecting stage sets hadn't been his ambition when graduating from the University of Wisconsin seven years ago. He'd been a leading man in university productions, a big, handsome guy who might make it in Hollywood one day if the chips fell right. He'd tried that for a year, but left Tinseltown weary of failure and wary of tinsel and followed a girlfriend to Washington, where his stagecraft courses at Wisconsin landed him after a while membership in the union and a job at the theatre. It wasn't acting, but at least it was showbiz: No jokes about following circus elephants with shovels, thank you.