ISBN 9780224099592,Curtain Call

Curtain Call

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ISBN 9780224099592


Publication Year 2015

ISBN 9780224099592

ISBN-10 0224099590

Paper Back

Number of Pages 336 Pages
Language (English)


On a sultry afternoon in the summer of 1936 a woman accidentally interrupts an attempted murder in a London hotel room. Nina Land, a West End actress, faces a dilemma: she's not supposed to be at the hotel in the first place, and certainly not with a married man, society portraitist Stephen Wyley. But once it becomes apparent that she may have seen the face of the man the newspapers have dubbed 'the Tie-Pin Killer' she realises that a refusal to come forward may endanger another woman's life.

Jimmy Erskine is the raffish doyen of theatre critics who fears that his star is fading: age and drink are catching up with him, and in his late-night escapades with young men he walks a legal tightrope that may snap at any moment. He has depended for years on his loyal and longsuffering secretary Tom, who has a secret of his own to protect. Tom's chance encounter with Madeleine Farewell, a lost young woman haunted by premonitions of catastrophe, closes the circle: it was Madeleine who narrowly escaped the killer's stranglehold that afternoon, and now walks the streets in terror of his finding her again.

Curtain Call is a comedy of manners, and a tragedy of mistaken intentions. Bad faith underlies the mood of late 1936, when Mosley's Blackshirts are causing mayhem, policemen entrap 'queers' in public lavatories, and the King himself risks his throne for the sake of an American divorcee. From the glittering murk of Soho's demi-monde to the grease paint and ghost-lights of theatreland, the story plunges on through smoky clubrooms, tawdry hotels and drag balls towards a denouement in which two women are stalked by the same killer. As bracing as a cold Martini and as bright as a new tie-pin, it is at once a deeply poignant love story, a murder mystery and an irresistible portrait of a society dancing towards the abyss.

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