One of the pleasures of writing for the Rust is the collegiate way which information is shared e.g. John Pargiter forever wants betting tips from our sports writers. I cannot help here but readers may have noticed on our arts pages an interest in the pre and post World War Two years : Foyles War has been rightly praised as was the novel In Love and War which I admired too. In the same spirit and age I offer up Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn. I enjoyed his Half the Human Race about a depressed Edwardian cricketer for its period recreation and treatment of a more unusual subject matter.
Curtain Call is set in pre-war London. It’s a ambitious novel in scope as it covers a murder mystery, a society portraitist drawn into supporting fascism by a fraudster, an aspiring actress, a delightfully waspish gay theatre critic Jimmy Erskine modelled on James Agate, a working girl and the louche world of covert gays and prostitution. Quinn’s success notably in Erslkine lies in drawing characters who are both deeply flawed but sympathetic. It’s a novel that has that an indefinable quality of drawing you in from page one.
My only criticism is that the revelation of the tie pin serial murderer is unsatisfactory. There are no clues and the reader is none the wiser why he committed the crimes.
I am sure everyone will enjoy this novel and in terms of recreation of the period it is every bit as detailed as the others cited.