by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have read a couple of Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn novels (here is my earlier post about her) and really enjoyed them. One of the things that stood out for me about this one was the fact that most of it was from the point of view of someone other than the detective. Alleyn goes to the theater with a friend of his who is a journalist and during the play one of the actors is murdered onstage. The journalist is also friends with one of the actors who was involved in the scene where the murder occurred and ends up helping Alleyn in the investigation. Much of the story is told from the journalist's perspective.
I also love the way Marsh writes, she tells you a lot about a character in a very few words. Here is how the testimony at the inquest is reported (it doesn't give anything away about who the murderer is):
"The rest of the cast followed in turn. Barclay Crammer gave a good all-round performance of a heart-broken gentleman of the old school. Janet Emerald achieved the feat known to leading ladies as 'running through the gamut of emotions.' Asked to account for the striking discrepancies between her statement and those of Miss Max and the stage manager, she wept unfeignedly and said her heart was broken. The coroner stared at her coldly, and told her she was an unsatisfactory witness. Miss Deamer was youthfully sincere, and used a voice with an effective little broken gasp. Her evidence was supremely irrelevant. The stage manager and Miss Mas were sensible and direct. Props looked and behaved so precisely like a murderer, that he left the box in a perfect gale of suspicion. Trixie Beadle struck the 'I was an innocent girl' note, but was obviously frightened and was treated gently." (p.127)
This book counts toward the Vintage Mystery Challenge in the category of Staging the Crime: a mystery set in the entertainment world (the theater, musical event, a pageant, Hollywood, featuring a magician, etc). Goodreads says it was first published in 1935, the copyright on the edition I read was 1953.