Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers are sent off to Scotland to investigate the murder of playwright Joy Sinclair at a manor house where a theater company has assembled for a reading of a new play. Major suspects include the producer, a nobleman who may be trying to protect his family from an old scandal that Sinclair may be trying to reveal in a rewrite of the play they are reading, and the director, an alcoholic who hopes to use the play for a comeback.
Matters become more complicated when Lynley discovers that the director is having an affair with Lady Helen Clark, the womanwho Lynley loves. She has come as his guest to Scotland and it seems as though the only access to the locked bedroom in which Sinclair was killed was through Lady Helen's bedroom. Lynley is convinced that the director is the killer; Havers is certain that it is the producer.
In the end the killer is caught through a ruse. Sinclair's sister pretends that she is going to go to the playwright's apartment to read through some old diaries that may well reveal the killer's identity. The police wait in the apartment for the killer to come and try to stop her.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein
In George's second book about aristocratic Scotland Yard detective Thomas Lynley, a theater group gathers at a remote Scottish estate to rehearse a new play, but playwright Joy Sinclair is fatally stabbed in her bed. Lynley and Sgt. Barbara Havers must tread lightly in their search for motive and murderer, for many of the suspects have known one another for years (and slept with one another); plus, Lady Helen Clyde, the woman Lynley loves, is a guest of the director and was in the adjoining room when the victim died. At first, this story looks like a standard variety-of-suspects-in-an-isolated-mansion tale, but fortunately it opens up to include London, the players' pasts, and an ancient seeming suicide in a small English village. Not as polished as George's debut in the series, _A Great Deliverance_, but a very good read nonetheless. [Note: As a John Fowles nut, I was delighted by the passing reference to "a sort of Sarah Woodruff garment that one might wear for striking dramatic poses on the Cobb."]
This report prepared by David Loftus