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PLAYED TO DEATH (Scott Drayco Series #1)

A body in a rundown Opera House.

Simmering resentment in a small Virginia coastal town.

A missing manuscript.

A dark family secret.



Former piano prodigy-turned FBI agent Scott Drayco is still suffering nightmares from his last case as a private consultant. To add insult to injury, he's bequeathed a rundown Opera House in Cape Unity, a down-on-its-luck seaside village where vacation homes were once a playground for the rich. His hopes for a quick sale are dashed when a new client with dreams of his own redemption is murdered in the Opera House, the letter “G” mockingly carved into his chest.


Partnering with a wary Sheriff, Drayco has to navigate a maze of illicit love affairs and hostility over immigration and coastal development as they try to catch the killer. But Drayco's confidence in his decision-making abilities is shaken by the flirtatious and lonely wife of a town councilman who attempts to seduce him, despite the fact she had an affair with the victim. Then, one mystery turns to two, as Drayco learns of a famous Polish pianist whose last concert was at the Opera House fifty years ago—and who was murdered after returning home.


Slowly, inevitably, Drayco gets pulled into a tangled scheme of jealousy and betrayal that reaches across the Atlantic into some of the darkest days of human history. But will he be able to untangle the web before the tensions in Cape Unity explode into more violence and he becomes the next victim?


Crimetime Press


eBook ISBN: 978-0-9904582-3-4

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9904582-1-0

Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-9904582-2-7





  • Named Best Mystery in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

  • Finalist for Shamus Award Best Indie P.I. Novel from the Private Eye Writers



"An engaging lead and atmospheric setting make for an ideal travel read." - Library Journal

"The storyline here is nicely structured, and creatively ties together two murder mysteries, which occurred decades apart. The small town setting is ideal, the lead character engaging, and the supporting cast interesting and diverse. Overall, a solid start to this series." - Omnimystery News


"Lawson uses the gothic features of the abandoned Opera House to great effect, creating an atmospheric background for the crimes and the solving of them, all of it accompanied with music that’s almost like another character. The pace never sagged and it kept me enthralled." - Long and Short Reviews


"Lawson’s book was so good, I read it twice from beginning to end...The citizens of Cape Unity are as diverse and multi-layered as any person living in the large cities, and Lawson portrayed them splendidly." - Reader's Favorite Reviews

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