First published: UK, Macdonald, 1946; US, Macmillan, 1947
Barzun and Taylor (Catalogue of Crime) call this “pretty late and pretty bad”. It’s not bad, but it’s not inspired, either. Travers and Wharton come to the conclusion that the unpleasant actor-manager was murdered by one of four people (secretary, housekeeper, and two actors), and are stonewalled for the next two hundred pages. This is a mistake, because it leads to disassociation and loss of interest. Not even a blackmail case and the strangling of the client three years later can rekindle interest. There’s a lot of waiting and following suspects, and little detection. The solution is reasonable, but uses that “hoary old trick”, SPOILER the gramophone.
John O’London’s Weekly (Evelyn Banks, 18th October 1946):
Neatly arranged murder of a successful actor. Ludovic Travers and Superintendent Wharton in excellent form.
New Yorker (29th November 1947, 80w):
Good, solid British stuff.
The Saturday Review (29th November 1947):
Poker-bopping of English actor-producer baffles Supt. Wharton and Ludovic Travers. Blackmail case, two years later, reopens earlier affair—and closes it. Redeemed mainly by engaging personalities of Wharton and Travers. Otherwise overlong, tortuous, and, surprisingly, spotted with ‘had-I-but-knowns’. Irritating.