July 05, 2004

Night at the Vulcan, by Ngaio Marsh

I'm not sure Marsh plays quite fair in this book, but it's such a charming read that I don't care.

Martyn Tarne is young stage actress from New Zealand. She's had some success touring in Australia, and has come to London to see if she can make it big. Most of her money was stolen en route, and she's spent the last two weeks traipsing from theater to theater trying to find a part. She's a stubborn girl, our Martyn; she wants to succeed on her own terms. Finally she arrives at the Vulcan theater late on a dreary afternoon, only to discover that her information was incorrect; there's no audition, and no job. It begins to rain, and with no money, little food, and nowhere to go, she takes refuge in the theater lobby.

And there begins a Cinderella story so replete with interesting characters that it's almost a pity that a murder has to enter into it--which, indeed, it doesn't until over halfway through the book, on the play's opening night. Enter Inspector Alleyn and the usual crew, there are many questions, the murderer is discovered, and young Martyn's career is launched.

All in all, quite a satisfactory book.

Posted by Will Duquette at July 5, 2004 06:09 PM