Book Review: Playing Mrs. Kingston

kingstonTitle: Playing Mrs. Kingston
Author: Tony Lee Moral
Release Date: December 4, 2014
Rating: 3/5

Playing Mrs. Kingston is a 1950’s thriller that follows Catriona Benedict as she takes on the biggest acting role of her lifetime. Catriona is a struggling actress and on the night that her show is cancelled, she is offered a new role that is almost too good to be true. The very wealthy Miles Kingston offers Catriona a large sum of money to play the role of his wife so that he can come into an inheritance that is promised to him if he gets married. Catriona agrees, despite the anger of her boyfriend, and enters into the world of the rich and powerful. However, at their fake wedding reception, Miles is murdered and Catriona is left behind to play his widow. Catriona must attempt to figure out who murdered Miles and claim the money that belongs to her.

The point of view shifts between several of the characters in the book, although it was mainly from the perspective of Catriona. I liked Catriona, but I never felt like I knew much about her. Moral mentions that she is from Minnesota and speaks briefly of her family life, but much of her life in New York seemed to be a mystery. I didn’t like Mario’s perspective because he was always angry and his temper with Catriona made him unlikeable. Besides the fact that he’s from Italy and plays in a band at a local club, not much is ever revealed about Mario either.

The supporting characters were relatively similar to each other. Leiobesky, the Polish man who forges the marriage certificate, seems very similar to Louis Ferraro, the casino owner. There isn’t much revealed about Miles until after his death, but his past reveals why he would hire an actress as his wife. I think of all of the supporting characters, I liked Freddie Swann the most. Freddie is a photographer from Harper’s Bazaar and he takes a quick liking to Catriona, bumping into her throughout the novel. I actually felt like the reader learned more about Freddie than Catriona. Grace, Catriona’s fake cousin-in-law, is exactly how I would picture a pampered socialite and I thought Moral described her well.

Playing Mrs. Kingston was definitely plot driven and there was never a lack of impending action. Catriona was constantly on the move. Although the plot was always moving, I didn’t see much character development through this story. Most of the characters seemed to be static and one dimensional. I would have almost preferred for there to be less action if it meant more unique characters.

I thought that Moral’s world building was great and I appreciated all of the details he provided. Moral did a good job of describing each scene in order to immerse the reader into the story. The setting was very 1950’s and I am glad that everything seemed true to the era. The descriptions of the artwork and clothing in the novel were especially detailed and it was easy to picture what the characters were seeing.

I was surprised to see a few typos throughout the novel and the wrong name being used during a scene. There were only a few of these errors but it was enough to jar me out of the scene. I think this is more of the fault of the editor, not the author, but it was still displeasing.

Overall, I think that Playing Mrs. Kingston would be an enjoyable read for someone who enjoys the noir style of writing. The author has written three books about Alfred Hitchcock cinema and it’s obvious that Hitchcock’s works were a source of inspiration. The plot moves quickly and although there is little character development, there is always something new happening. I prefer a story that is a bit more focused on the characters, but I would recommend this to a reader who loves a fast-paced story with lots of twists and turns in the plot.

If you have read Playing Mrs. Kingston, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view Playing Mrs. Kingston on Amazon, please click here.

I received a free copy of Playing Mrs. Kingston courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

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