The Mystery Play by Josh MacDonald
The Mystery Play is a detective story, a ghost story, and a memory play: a theatrical blending of Wit and The Woman In Black. Though fully self-contained, The Mystery Play is also the Second in a trilogy about crime-solving Sister Vivian Salter, a flinty, fifty-ish Catholic nun forced into the role of amateur sleuth. Each story in her trilogy was penned by a different playwright and commissioned by Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.
In The Mystery Play, Salter recounts her late-stage struggles with her own beliefs while also detailing her father George’s descent into Alzheimer’s. In his seventies, George is becoming prone to semi-violent outbursts, to speaking with phantoms in the middle of the night, and to eerie sleepwalking – all of which leave Salter exhausted and questioning the existence of God’s love. Then, into the adjoining suite next door moves a young schoolteacher, Jennifer Craig, and her husband, Peter. This newlywed couple seems perfect, and very much in love … until they don’t. By creeping attrition, Salter begins to suspect that terrible spousal abuse is taking place next door, and, despite herself, she gets drawn into mystery once more. But this time it’s a fearsome mystery that sneaks increasingly closer and closer to home.
The Mystery Play, a supernatural chiller of rattling cupboards, overnight séances, and spectral possessions, reveals a new definition of “mystery” – one derived from the Mystery Plays of sister Salter’s dwindling faith – in which the word can also mean a miracle beyond all logic.
“MacDonald has crafted a deliciously twisty 'what-if,' populated with compelling characters, spectral thrills, and bluenose ghosts.”
—Ami McKay, New York Times bestselling author of The Birth House and The Witches of New York
“The writing is bright, poetic, surprising, and funny. And to top it off, The Mystery Play really is a mystery, as well as a ghost story and a love story.”
—Wendy Lill, award-winning author of The Glace Bay Miners' Museum and Memories of You
“MacDonald's The Mystery Play has four vulnerable characters seeking connection, but at its core is a rollicking good story – really creepy, very mysterious, with unexpected twists to keep an audience wondering. MacDonald beautifully marries his characters' authentic hearts with an existential 'mystery.'”
—Catherine Banks, Governor General's Award–winning author of It Is Solved by Walking and Bone Cage