A night at the theater provides another retro puzzle for an amateur detective to solve.
Although Queen’s Counsel Rex Graves and his bride, Helen, manage to get through their wedding with no murders, their luck runs out during an evening at the theater. A mystery play written by Helen’s friend Penny Spencer features five renowned fictional detectives working together to solve a murder. When leading lady Cassie Chase is actually murdered on opening night, Rex and the police must find a real-life killer. DI Mike Fiske, who knows Rex’s reputation as a crime solver (Judgment of Murder, 2016, etc.), is willing to make use of his skills. The suspects, who seem to be limited to the people involved in the production, include Trey Atkins, an actor who was engaged to Cassie, a delightful girl apparently beloved by all. Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Sherlock Holmes, and Father Brown are all suspects in the persons of the actors who are playing them. A strange phone call to Rex, supposedly from Trey, hints that Cassie committed suicide because he wouldn’t marry her, but when Rex asks him about it later, Trey vehemently denies the story. When the police rule out suicide, Rex digs into Cassie’s life looking for possible motives. That phone call turns out to be the first in a series of clues that will lead to a clever killer.
Challinor, who often modernizes and repurposes golden-age mystery ploys, this time takes the further step of recruiting the stars of those classic novels to help solve the case.