2007: 187. Night at the Vulcan


“As she turned into Carpet Street the girl wondered at her own obstinacy.  To what a pass it had brought her, she thought.”

Night at the Vulcan, Ngaio Marsh

Another day, another Roderick Alleyn mystery.  And another based in a theater, at that.  Still, this is a fun little mystery, mostly because I can’t help but like the theatrical conflict in it - the leading lady has been sleeping with the leading man (who is also the director), but that is coming to the end, her husband has the second male lead and is jealous (and a drunk), his (the husband’s niece) has been badly miscast in a crucial ingenue part which is causing tension, and the tension increases when our heroine, the lovely Martyn Tane shows up on the scene.  You see, Martyn is not only a good little actress, but is a dead ringer for the leading man (which is a crucial plot point for the play).  Rumors start flying - is she the leading man’s love child brought in to make trouble? Is it really a coincidence that such a girl would literally collapse from hunger at the stage door and be given a job as dresser to the leading lady? What is going on?  

Needless to say (well since this is a murder mystery) all this conflict leads to murder, which is moderately interesting.  Not as interesting as the backstage near-incestuous interpersonal squabbles, though.  That stuff makes the book.

Recommended for: Readers who like to read about the theater, and also like murder mysteries.  You know, if there really was as much murder in the theater as there is in books, it would be amazing.  You’d never get a play made.

Date/Place Completed: 12/13/07; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017