Troubador Lights Burning Blue

Released: 28/04/2016

ISBN: 9781784625214

Format: Paperback

Review this Book

Lights Burning Blue

A love of the theatre, a memory of murder.


Lights Burning Blue is a tender story of an unlikely friendship, and also a page-turning thriller set in the world of the theatre. Brooke McCarthy left drama school over a year ago. After many months of waiting for her big break, she gets a job with The Edwardian Palace Theatre Company on the south coast. Why did I feel slightly ashamed of the fact that my first real job since leaving college is stage-managing? It’s an important job. Vital in fact, and it can be a very rewarding and challenging career. Except in my case I didn’t really want to do it. It’s not everything she hoped for; it’s not a proper acting job and the play’s director, the notorious Jimmy Knowles, is difficult to work for and a hard man to please. The play is not even rehearsing at the theatre itself, but in an out-of-the-way village hall near a woodland nature reserve miles from anywhere. But this is the theatrical profession. Jobs don’t come along very easily, and Brooke is fed up with working as a temp in an office. On her first day, Brooke meets an endearing old man who lives in the cottage just across the path from the rehearsal hall. A man with an interesting past and an infectious love of the theatre.. Just the week before Brooke arrives at her new job, a young girl who looks somewhat like her has been found murdered in the woods... Lights Burning Blue is a page-turning thriller that will not only keep you guessing, but being written by an actor, will also give you an insider's view of what it is really like to work in the theatre.

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I will lay my cards on the table right away: this is a smashingly great novel that grabbed my attention and held it for the day it took me to read it!

The characterisation is rich and even though the writer has been carefully sparing on physical description – something I am glad he didn’t clog the pace up with – there is enough to form the characters and let the reader fill the gaps. The same goes for the descriptions of the spaces and world of the story. I have no idea how I built to such a vivid image in my mind but I guess it came from the carefully sketched details that I was allowed freedom to colour my own way. I LOVE it when writers do that.

Being a man of the theatre myself, there were so many aspects of the story that I related to with great warmth and nostalgia, but this isn’t a novel that requires you to be an expert, or even know anything about theatre to fully engage in. If fact we even have that to share with the protagonist’s boyfriend (who is rounded just enough to help the story move along) whose relationship with our narrator is completely believable and of great value to the progress of the story.

And it is the story and the crafting of it that really captured me. Told in a wonderful style of multiple first person, even though there is a clear protagonist point of view, a “narrator” so to speak, the other characters and their differences are exciting, intriguing, funny and infectiously warm; and when needs be, dastardly sinister to add edge and poise to the thriller side. The twists, the turns, revelations and signposting kept me guessing and changing my mind throughout.

The book is paced just right – not too slow, not too fast. Any slower and it would have dragged, any faster and the complex array of little references, rich imagery, and themes in plentiful supply would have been lost. They all came to an ending with a sudden jolt of speed and a gasping “oh, I see now…” realisation in the denouement that fitted together like a grand speech from Poirot. (Okay, maybe not as grandiose as Poirot, and certainly not as verbose, but definitely matching in richness).

It is a relatively short novel, but that’s not a criticism as I feel the length is exactly right. Even though I could write plenty more about it I fear that I might include spoilers and rob a reader from enjoyable journey the book gave me for a day! As a thriller it has all the page-turning, cliff hanging tension it needs; as drama set in the theatre world it has just the right amount of practical detail to make it utterly believable; as a novel it reads like a beautifully directed play that whisks its audience away.

Andrew Cullum’s “Lights Burning Blue” was a pleasure to read, and carries the warmth of someone with an evident love of theatre, and the cunning of a writer with a great eye for mystery and thriller.

My only question to the author: when is the next novel coming out…?

by Colin Ward

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Full Text: It's a good book but I somehow expected more from it. In the middle was quite good but the ending left something to be desired. I liked the theater aspect and Richard III sounds like a really good play.

by Michelle Gonzalez

5 out of 5 stars

What a lovely book!. As soon as I started reading it, I knew I would enjoy it. As I knew nothing about life in the theatre, it was fascinating to find out how much work is involved in putting on play. So glad I never wanted to be an actress! The story is told through the eyes of 3 protagonists, the main one the young actress, the other 2 as likeable as she is. I stayed up way too late finishing the book, it was definitely worth it though. Highly recommended!

by Hannelore Cheney

What a triumph of a debut novel.
From the opening page through to the nail biting climax, I was swept along by the rich characterisation, the pacy plot & the twists and turns. There is a wonderful lightness of touch from the author that brought a smile to my face, and then the ability to turn down the house lights and plunge us into something dark and thrilling. There were hints of vintage Stephen King at times.
For anyone who has tread the boards , this book is a must. For anyone who wants to lose themselves in a page turner, this has to be in your hands.
The lights are burning very bright and can't wait for this author's next novel.

by Dissembler

5 Stars. A Terrific Read.
What an exciting tale, cleverly told from the perspectives of several of the characters. It was a thrilling page turner and I didn't want it to end. I started reading it on a long haul flight and when we reached the destination, I wanted the plane to continue circling so I could stay completely immersed in the experience. Not only did I learn a lot about the theatre world, but the surprising plot twists and engaging story line as a whole created a perfect opportunity for good, healthy escapism. I look forward to the next offering from this author!

by Tracy

5 Stars
This was a Christmas read for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had two other books on the go at the time but found this impossible to put down and read it in about 3 days. The characters are extremely believable, the situation is clear and understandable and the story develops to a satisfying end in a logical and unpredictable manner. I would highly recommend this novel and I look forward to more form the author.

by Mercutio

5 Stars Surprisingly Enjoyable Page Turner
After reading the previous reviews I was expecting to be disappointed. But how wrong I was, I found myself truly gripped and eager to turn each page. A gentle, clever, interesting book worthy of high praise and a very easy read. Can we expect more from this writer?

by Oliver Hume

5 stars.
Recently read this book on holiday and wanted to read it again once I'd finished. Love the sentiment behind it and it's mystery made me want to read it again knowing what the bigger picture was. Well worth the read.

by EL

5 Stars Unexpected surprise.

I was really impressed by this novel. My first impressions were that it was written more out of a love of theatre and acting than it was to entertain the reader.
And then it just unfolded beautifully, using the voice of more than one character to tell different perspectives of the story.
Andrew Cullum has crafted his main characters with mastery, changing the voice of the first person as we step inside the minds of each of them. Each have a clear identity and contribute to the story from a well built personal story, not just as a device used by less talented writers.
With an unexpectedly heart-warming conclusion, I heartily recommend this to anyone who is looking for a book to surprise them.

by Daniel Hawthorne

5 Stars. Well done Andrew

This is a cracking good story, a thriller with pace, imagination, originality and a classically surprising turn of events at the end: a compulsive page-turner. For a first novel, the author is to be congratulated on providing his readers with excellent entertainment, and a cast of interesting and believable characters. It is a daring move to tell the tale in the first person in multiple form, that is, from the point of view of some of the characters telling their own stories as the plot unfolds. The author takes another risky decision in including a supernatural element into a hard-edged murder mystery. I think he cleverly pulls it off, but other readers might consider that he has crossed the bounds of credibility. A minor criticism could be levelled that the forebodings in the early chapters of trouble ahead are a tad over done. And I have to say that, when it came to the dénouement, I couldn’t quite get my head round the actions and explanations of the principal culprit: but I am happy to confess that I was finishing the book rather late at night, simply because I couldn’t put it down, so that particular part of my appraisal could be a bit unfair! Do read this book: I am sure that you will enjoy it: and, like me, you will no doubt hope that other novels from the same author will make an appearance in due course.

by Martin

This supernatural read kept me up most of the night just to finish it.

The mystery was a good guessing game and I have to say I did not guess what was going to happen next.

It is a well written tale and the characters are genuinely realistic. This is a book that I am recommending to my book club, I think most readers will enjoy it, I loved the cozy feel that the author put forward.

by Tracy Shephard

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