Hannah Ives is always ready to support others like herself who have been through the gauntlet of fear and uncertainty that a diagnosis of cancer often brings. So when friend and fellow survivor Dorothy Hart asks for help building sets for the Naval Academy's upcoming production of Sweeney Todd, Hannah readily agrees.
But it means associating with an old foe -- a vindictive officer whose accusations once nearly destroyed Hannah's home life. And when one corpse too many appears during a dress rehearsal of the dark and bloody musical, Hannah finds herself accused of murder -- and enmeshed in a web of treachery and deception that rivals the one that damned the "Demon Barber."
Caught up in a drama as sinister as any that has ever unfolded on stage, Hannah stands to lose everything unless she unmasks a killer before the final curtain falls ...
Agatha and Anthony Award winner Talley's predictable fifth Hannah Ives cozy fails to take full advantage of its intriguing premise: the victim is discovered on the set of a navy production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd. Ives, a cancer survivor, quickly becomes the chief suspect, since her fingerprints are found on the hammer used to fatally bludgeon Jennifer Goodall, who was the Naval Academy's sexual assault victim intervention officer. Years before, Goodall had earned Ives's enmity by falsely accusing the amateur sleuth's husband of sexual harassment. Stunned to find herself in cuffs, Ives loses no opportunity, once bail is posted, to seek the truth. Despite references to the Clinton "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward homosexuals and to procurement scandals resulting from the ongoing war in Iraq, the author doesn't make her setting convincing; even the scene describing a visit to the Pentagon memorial for the victims of 9/11 will leave many readers unmoved.