Title: Curtain Call
Author: Anthony Quinn
Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Jonathan Cape
Date of Publication: 08 January 2015
Number of Pages: 326
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: On a sultry afternoon in the summer of 1936 a woman accidentally interrupts an attempted murder in a London hotel room. Nina Land, a West End actress, faces a dilemma: she’s not supposed to be at the hotel in the first place, and certainly not with a married man. But once it becomes apparent that she may have seen the face of the man the newspapers have dubbed ‘the Tie-Pin Killer’ she realises that another woman’s life could be at stake.
Jimmy Erskine is the raffish doyen of theatre critics who fears that his star is fading: age and drink are catching up with him, and in his late-night escapades with young men he walks a tightrope that may snap at any moment. He has depended for years on his loyal and longsuffering secretary Tom, who has a secret of his own to protect. Tom’s chance encounter with Madeleine Farewell, a lost young woman haunted by premonitions of catastrophe, closes the circle: it was Madeleine who narrowly escaped the killer’s stranglehold that afternoon, and now walks the streets in terror of his finding her again.
Review: Anthony Quinn has delivered a book with style, class, strong characters and strong writing. I enjoyed Curtain Call enormously but I imagine this has something to do with the story taking place in the areas of London I frequent the most, Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia, Soho, Marylebone and the West End. Nina Land even lives in the street I walk along most afternoons to reach Baker Street Station. Trust me, I’ve been trying to decide which building she is most likely to have lived in but I’m yet to make a decision.
It is impossible to peg this novel into any one specific genre. The underlying premise of the novel is the ‘Tie-Pin Murderer’ but there is also comedy and political intrigue. This is not to leave out prostitution and homosexuality. Curtain Call does well at including a vast cross section of life without sermonising or demonising anyone.
There isn’t really a great deal I can write about Curtain Call because it was a fun, easy read. From the first page I was aware of how well this would translate into a three or four part series for the BBC (where they could spend tv license money on something decent). There were a few, rather obvious, twists but the plotting was remarkable. Each section flowed into the next without pause or irrelevance. All the characters were necessary, all the dialogue was necessary, all the developments were necessary. It is so rare to read a book that is so smooth.
I just don’t want to leave this novel so let’s have some fun. Presenting to readers and the BBC, here is my cast list for Curtain Call.