Title: Quick Curtain
Author: Alan Melville
When Douglas B. Douglas—leading light of the London theatre—premieres his new musical extravaganza, Blue Music, he is sure the packed house will be dazzled by the performance. What he couldn’t predict is the death of his star, Brandon Baker, on stage in the middle of Act 2. Soon another member of the cast is found dead, and it seems to be a straightforward case of murder followed by suicide.
Inspector Wilson of Scotland Yard—who happens to be among the audience—soon discovers otherwise. Together with Derek, his journalist son, Wilson takes charge of proceedings in his own inimitable way.
The issues I had with this book were very similar to those I had with Weekend at Thrackley by the same author. It’s not funny enough to be a good parody – of either crime fiction or the theatre world – and doesn’t have a good enough plot to be an enjoyable crime novel. The ‘jokes’ about the theatre world all boil down to one thing: true talent – in writing, acting or singing – is meaningless, only talent-less hacks and horrible actors make ridiculous amounts of money because the audience is too stupid to tell one from the other. Even for a parody that’s a bit shallow. Non-theatre related jokes include hilarities like “No, you can’t go undercover. Everyone will be able to tell that you’re a policeman because of your large feet.” (Have you already died from laughter?) or an extremely infantile scene in which Wilson Jr. goes on a cycling tour despite having no experience and then his behind hurts.
Meanwhile, the crime story features a Scotland Yard detective who witnesses a murder on stage – the ever popular character is shoot in a scene but then the actor drops actually dead – but can’t be bothered to take a closer look at the prop gun to see if the deadly shoot really came from that gun and if perhaps there is some hint as to how the prop gun turned deadly. Later he meets a woman who introduces herself as the victim’s wife – Wilson wasn’t even aware that he was married – and doesn’t bother asking her a single question. Or her name. Or anything. There’s parody crime novels and then there’s this. Whatever this is. A book-like object as my favourite podcast would call it. But nothing I would recommend you should read.