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 long suffering 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. Curtain Call is a comedy of manners, and a tragedy of mistaken intentions. From the glittering murk of Soho's demi-monde to the grease paint and ghost-lights of theatreland, the story plunges on through smoky clubrooms, tawdry hotels and drag balls towards a denouement in which two women are stalked by the same killer. As bracing as a cold Martini and as bright as a new tie-pin, it is at once a deeply poignant love story, a murder mystery and an irresistible portrait of a society dancing towards the abyss.
Murder, ambition, ugly politics and dangerous love in London's Theatreland - another moving and compelling novel from the author of the much acclaimed Half of the Human Race (Channel 4 TV Book Club).
Anthony Quinn was born in Liverpool in 1964. Since 1998 he has been the film critic of the Independent. He is the author of The Rescue Man, which won the 2009 Authors' Club Best First Novel Award, Half of the Human Race and The Streets, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Walter Scott Prize.