Dreams of stardom had lured Martyn Tarne from faraway New Zealand to make the dreary, soul-destroying round of West End agents and managers in search of work.
The Vulcan Theatre had been her last forlorn hope, and now, driven by sheer necessity, she was glad to accept the humble job of dresser to its leading lady. And then came the eagerly awaited opening night.
To Martyn the night brought a strange turn of the wheel of fortune - but to one distinguished member of the cast it was to bring sudden and unforeseen death....
©1951 Original Text of 1951 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"Miss Marsh at her best...she is thoroughly at home in the wings with a pack of actors locked in the grip of rehearsals and jealous intrigue." (New Statesman)
"Miss Marsh’s best yet." (Observer)
Not my favourite Roderick Alleyn.
I thought the story had some interesting moments, but not enough for me to want to listen to it again, or recommend it to others - I thought Marsh would have given Mike Lamprey, from Surfeit of Lamprey's, more footage and let him be the romantic interest for 'the' girl in the end.
I wanted to pre-view this title before handing to my young teen - glad I did; other parents may want to know of these potential content issues too: adultery between the lead actors, a marital rape scene is alluded to euphemistically, suicide.
Now for my teeny gripe about Saxon - just a small one since he is an excellent narrator - he always uses WAY to much affectation for 'gay' characters in Marsh's stories.
You don't have to know all about theater to enjoy the wonderful recreation of backstage and onstage life created here by mystery master Ngaio Marsh, who was also immersed in theater herself. This little troupe finds itself in a crisis. We are drawn in wondering first who will be killed (because someone always is) and then who did it? Plenty of motives and clues, as usual, brilliant and unbelievably speedy detection by Alleyne, but we still don't know who did it until the very end. How nice is that!
I read the book years ago and remember really enjoying it for the characters and the theater setting. Listening to it again years later, I see why I enjoyed it. While dated by time, the characters are interesting (except for the purposely annoying ones) and the insider's view of the theater is interesting. The murder is really secondary to the characters and their relationships.
The opening moments with literally "starving artist" and her serendipitous finding of a job and food captures both attention and sympathy.
Real variety of voices.
The kindness of Badger and Jacko to Martyn is poignant.
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