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“Set in England at the turn of the last century, Mr. Belfoure’s latest novel featuring an architect is focused on the birth of musical variety theater. Once considered little better than criminals, charlatans, or worse; actors, singers, dancers, and the like are just starting to gain respect as artists. The “dance hall” is becoming “the theater”. Automobiles are starting to appear in the streets of London and one of the featured acts in the new opulent and extravagant play houses are short snippets of moving pictures. In 1900, Douglas Layton was one of the busiest architects in England—respected by his colleagues, married to the daughter of a peer, the father of a young son. Life was good for the younger son of a brick mason. Now, he is one of the most hated men in the country, christened “The Butcher of the West End” by the press, responsible for the death of fourteen people and the maiming of more than a dozen others. Five years later as he leaves prison, Layton is almost convinced that he was guilty of the disaster at the Britannia Theatre; that the collapse of the balcony that resulted in all this sorrow was because his design was flawed and he was criminally negligent. His only option for the future is to reinvent himself with a new name and career. In a strange twist of fate, he becomes a scene painter for musical variety theater. Here he literally meets a whole cast of characters both quirky and charismatic. It is in one of the regional theaters of England that he discovers something that makes him think that the Britannia disaster was not an accident or negligence, it was flat out murder. With new and old friends, he begins to delve deeper into the world of the theater and begins to hope that he can clear his name and return to his old life.”Karen, McLean & Eakin Booksellers
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