Gervase Fen’s next mystery (I think, maybe I’m reading them out of order) – Swan Song – takes place in an opera house. Young married singers, young unmarried singers, a new conductor and an unbearable male diva who after threatening to destroy the show apparently hangs himself in his dressing room. He wasn’t the suicidal type and there are a lot of barbiturates in the bottle he was drinking from. So did someone try to poison him and then he hung himself? Or did someone hang him? Were there two murderers? That seems a bit much, but he was very unpopular.
Edmund Crispin has some biting commentary on musical performers. He was a composer so he probably spoke from experience. Elizabeth is hoping to interview detectives including Fen, “I’m hoping to do H.M, and Mrs Bradley, and Albert Campion…” I love this idea. They’re all part of the same universe. Fen is friends with H.M. He says at one point “Or to crib a phrase from my illustrious colleague at the war office — burn me.”
Fen felt in the pocket of his raincoat, and after bringing to light successively a grubby handkerchief, a half-empty packet of cigarettes, a copy of the Imitation of Christ, and a small woolly bear named Thomas Shadwell, found his torch.
So, then there are more attacks, attempted poisonings and stranglings, the occasional oddball minor character. I enjoy his writing and I guessed a bit of the solution, but there was no way I think for a modern person to guess the whole solution. If you know enough about how things were made back then, perhaps you could figure it out, I couldn’t.