A Stolen Shadow is set in January, a few weeks after A Christmas Shadow ended. The opening chapters include Shadow and Jimmy watching a performance of the pantomime Snow White. Unfortunately, the production does not go according to plan and Prince Charming is poisoned at the beginning of the second act.
Pantomimes have been popular in the UK for centuries. They are a form of family entertainment and are traditionally staged at or just after Christmas. They are usually based around a fairy tale or folk story such as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk or Robin Hood and feature familiar characters including a pantomime dame (a middle-aged man in drag) and a pantomime horse or cow (two actors in an animal costume). There are musical numbers, dancing, slapstick comedy, lots of jokes and double entendres.
Audience participation is a big part of pantomime. Sweets are often thrown from the stage, and those watching are encouraged to join in with singing songs or to boo and hiss whenever the villain appears and call out phrases like, “He’s behind you!”. Whenever a character says “Oh yes it is,” the audience responds with “Oh no it isn’t.”
As readers of other books in the Chief Inspector Shadow series can probably guess, Shadow is not a fan of the pantomime. However, their popularity shows no sign of waning, particularly when famous actors are given a starring role. Recently, Sir Ian McKellen played the dame in a touring production of Mother Goose and this year, Dame Judi Dench stars in her first pantomime as the talking mirror in Snow White at Bury St Edmunds. So, love them or loathe them, it looks like pantomimes are definitely here to stay.
About the Author.
H L Marsay grew up binge-reading detective stories and promised herself that some day, she would write one too. A Long Shadow was the first book in her Chief Inspector Shadow series set in York. Luckily, living in a city so full of history, dark corners and hidden snickelways, she is never short of inspiration. She has also written The Secrets of Hartwell Trilogy and The Lady in Blue Mysteries. The Chief Inspector Shadow Mysteries have recently been optioned for television.
When she isn’t coming up with new ways to bump people off, she enjoys drinking red wine, eating dark chocolate and reading Agatha Christie – preferably at the same time!