Writer, singer and actor Joanne Sydney Lessner draws on her own experiences pursuing a performing career in New York City for her acclaimed Isobel Spice Mysteries: The Temporary Detective, Bad Publicity, The Ghosts’ High Noon, And Justice for Some, and Offed Stage Left. With humor and a bit of romance, Isobel juggles auditions and temp jobs, solving murders along the way, while Joanne's inside knowledge provides a window into the realities of breaking into show business. Joanne's debut novel, Pandora’s Bottle, was inspired by the true story of the world's most expensive bottle of wine and was named one of the top five books of 2010 by Paperback Dolls. With her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, she has co-authored several musicals, including the cult hit Fermat’s Last Tango and Einstein’s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman, opening Off Broadway in November 2019. Her play Critical Mass received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010. Joanne is also a regular contributor to Opera News and a graduate of Yale University.
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And Justice For Some
Dinner theater can be a death sentence.
Actress Isobel Spice and her best friend Delphi Kramer are thrilled to finally have an opportunity to perform together, even if it’s just a cheesy interactive murder mystery at a judge’s lifetime achievement dinner. But when Isobel’s dramatic death scene is upstaged by a real murder and Delphi is left holding the still-smoking gun, Isobel drops the role of victim and assumes the role of detective. With the help of her precocious brother Percival and her reluctant temp agent James Cooke, Isobel peels back layers of deception to reveal a shocking abuse of power—and no shortage of suspects eager to deliver justice to a man who denied it to so many.
In the world of PR, there’s only one crime worse than killing a deal—killing a client.
Aspiring actress and office temp Isobel Spice finds a warm welcome at Dove's Flight Public Relations, thanks to her old school friend Katrina Campbell. However, the atmosphere chills considerably when Isobel unwittingly serves an important client a deadly dose of poisoned coffee. Her stalwart temp agent, James Cooke, rushes to her aid, but balks when he learns that the victim was the fraternity brother who got him expelled from college. News that Dove's Flight is being acquired by an international conglomerate quickly supplants the murder as the hot topic of office gossip, but Isobel is convinced the two events are related.
When all roads of inquiry lead back to Katrina, Isobel is forced to consider the possibility that her friend’s killer instincts go beyond public relations.
Offed Stage Left
There’s one role you don’t want a callback for: Prime Suspect.
Aspiring actress Isobel Spice lands her first regional theater job, playing a supporting role and understudying the lead in Sousacal: The Life and Times of John Philip Sousa. A series of minor backstage accidents culminates in the suspicious death of the leading lady on opening night. When Isobel takes over the role, her mastery of the material makes her more suspect than savior, and she realizes the only way to clear her name is to discover the identity of the murderer—before he or she strikes again.
The Temporary Detective
Phones, light typing…and murder.
Think breaking into show business is hard? Try landing a temp job without office skills. That’s the challenge facing aspiring actress Isobel Spice when she arrives in New York City, fresh out of college and deficient in PowerPoint. After being rejected by seven temp agencies for her lack of experience, Isobel sweet-talks recruiter James Cooke into letting her cover a last-minute vacancy at a bank. New to his own job, and recently sober, James takes a chance on Isobel, despite his suspicion that she’s a trouble-magnet. His misgivings are borne out by lunchtime, when she stumbles across a dead secretary in a bathroom stall. With her fingerprints on the murder weapon, Isobel sets out to prove her innocence by investigating the crime herself. While learning to juggle phone lines and auditions, she discovers an untapped talent for detective work—a qualification few other office temps, let alone actresses, can claim.