Francis Pettigrew has settled into a quiet law practice, and a life of domesticity. Unfortunately, his wife has settled herself amongst the second violins in the county orchestral society. Why unfortunately? It has resulted in his new role as the society’s treasurer, and his dutiful attendance to anything concerning it. Right now one of those concerns is the November concert, which is quickly turning into a disaster. No clarinet, the organist is missing in action, and the visiting soloist, violinist Laura Carless, has just been found strangled in her dressing room. Suspects include the jealous husband, an ex-husband, and a man from Laura’s past.
The investigation is in the hands of Inspector Trimble, “a very conscientious office”, who tends to overcompensate for his insecurities, and the more phlegmatic Detective Sergeant Tate. But the Chief Constable thinks the case needs something more, and that would be Pettigrew.
This is definitely not my favorite Hare. The plot is well constructed, and crime may be rather intricate, but the culprit was not that hard to picked out. And I have no knowledge of Mozart symphonies, Dickens’ personal history, or British law, but based on the clues laid by Hare, I was still able to work out the solution. Pettigrew’s appearance in the story, once the murder occurs, becomes sparse. He becomes a consultant outside any of the action. And Trimble has no knowledge of him or his theories. Yet the crime cannot be solved until they come together, and that occurs merely by accident.
What makes this an entertaining read are some very good, well-drawn characters. Chief Constable MacWilliam, Trimble, and Tate are particular standouts. But it is Mrs. Roberts, committee member, viola player, and taker in of lame dogs who steals the show. She is Introduced as an “unassuming, good-natured woman”, but in defense of one of her lost causes she is so much more. The scene in which she very serenely obstructs Trimble is a delight.
I’d have to put this at the bottom of my Cyril Hare reads, but even then it’s still worth a go.
My Judgment – 3.75/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Mystery Challenge 2019: Just the Facts, Ma’am – Where: At a theater/circus/other places of performance
Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge – Red Herrings: Ex-wife or ex-husband, Inheritance; Murder weapon: Stocking
Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – Nov #3 Primary action takes place in this month