Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.75 / 5 stars)
Jackson Birkman is an emmy nominated actor who seems to have it all. But, with the final episode of “Dispatching David” approaching, his future is filled with uncertainty. Sure, he has a wonderful fiancée and the best friend a guy could ask for, but with finances tight, there seems to be a constant nagging over his head that he might be on the streets. Unfortunately, Jackson never has a chance to find out after a freak accident on set that results in his murder. But was it an accident? A suicide? A murder? Will anyone ever know for certain?
In a suspenseful, compelling novel that will keep you on your toes, The Long Shadow on the Stage paints a picture of psychopathy, obsession, and uncertainty. The reader is thrown for a loop, with time frames put into question, as well as the reliability of the point-of-view characters. Did Clara do it? Did Edgar? What about Gus? Or was it just a crazed fan? The pieces eventually fall together, but even when the crime is solved, it doesn’t mean justice is served.
In a way, to an extent, this is the origin story for a killer. Perhaps the killer first acts out of desperation, but it is clear there is something more sadistic and evil going on backstage. As we delve more into the killer’s mind, we see someone who distorts reality, who takes small things as offense, and might just be a brilliant actor. Has the plotline of Dispatching David taken over the actor’s persona? Have they lost themselves to the show? So many of these questions linger, even as the book ends, and that is the brilliance behind the story: not every question can be answered, and justice is not always served.
Yet, the lack of answers to why the murder took place might also be the book’s flaw. It is never clear why the perpetrator kills Jackson: was it for his money, his debts, his fame? Or was there someone else? There’s a hint that possibly the killer is in love with Jackson, or at least in what Jackson is; I do hope the author’s intention is not to frame the killer’s desire for Jackson as a reason to kill him. Perhaps it was just a long game instead, to lay pieces of a puzzle together, to fill some sadistic desire for blood.
We might never know, and that’s okay.
Overall, the story is suspenseful and leaves the reader hanging on the edge of every word. Will the killer continue? Or will they stop? And is Jackson really that good of a guy?
I guess you have to read and find out.
What’s it about?
Jackson Birkman has the perfect life: the lead role on the popular detective show “Dispatching David,” millions of adoring fans, celebrity status, and a beautiful girlfriend. After five seasons, “Dispatching David” has just been cancelled. With the final episode quickly approaching, Jackson is worried about more than just his future acting career. His once massive fortune is dwindling and his girlfriend Clara is pressuring him to propose. When Jackson unexpectedly dies on the set of the TV show during filming, everyone speculates whether it was suicide or murder. Why would Jackson commit suicide? If it was a setup, who would want Jackson to die? And most importantly, what was the motive of the murderer? As the investigation continues, Officer Wilson inches closer to the truth, uncovering Jackson’s secrets. She begins to think no one really knew Jackson at all, but is determined to solve the case, no matter the cost.