Act of Murder
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Wigan, 1894. The Richard Throstle Magic Lantern Company proudly presents its ghoulishly popular magic lantern show, Phantasmagoria. Meanwhile, across town a touring theatre company – the Morgan-Drew Players – plods the provinces in the celebrated melodrama The Silver King. The good folk of Wigan are inundated with entertainment opportunities, which they sorely need following a recent strike which has left the town half-starved. But when Richard Throstle is found murdered in his hotel room – his wife Georgina sound asleep beside him – and a cast member of The Silver King is offed onstage during a performance, the local police in the form of Sergeant Slevin take charge of an investigation which will see the curtain go up on sordid predilections and shameful secrets.
morning’ or ‘How’s your Tommy doin’?’ and then the black clouds of dust would begin to swirl in front of him and make their faces grainy and unrecognisable, and he would be back down there with the blast about to return, holding Joseph’s severed head in his arms. A sharp clap, to tell them it was on its way. They would turn away from him and he would shuffle on past them, but not before he moved as close to their faces as he could, to get a good glimpse of their eyes through all this
woman? If indeed such a person exists.’ Jenkins again pondered the question. ‘Nothing of substance. But he did say that he couldn’t wait to get back to Leeds. I got the impression that whoever he was talking about might actually live there.’ Slevin took out his notebook and pencilled in a few words. ‘Will that be all, sergeant? Only I will be late for the theatre and I still have to change. The four-thirty from Manchester Piccadilly was not the most comfortable of journeys.’ ‘What time did he
Ivanhoe. The dust is used to show someone has been travelling, or fighting, or both.’ Slevin recalled the tubs of powder he had seen backstage at the Royal Court. Another connection between the two productions. ‘Two eyes and two heads, you say?’ Captain Bell was shaking his head sadly. ‘What on earth does that mean? Poor imbecile had two eyes and no head. Not to speak of, anyway.’ He smiled at his comment and bade his sergeant farewell. Two eyes and two heads. Now what indeed had Enoch Platt
all, Mr Jameson. But logical. Oh yes. As logical as a man with two heads!’ * The Reverend Edward Malvern sat facing Sergeant Slevin in the hotel manager’s office. ‘Naturally I want to assist the police. The perpetrator must be brought to meet the full rigour of the law before justice is pronounced.’ ‘He will be, your reverence, you can rest assured on that.’ ‘But there are practical matters I need to attend to, you understand, sergeant.’ Malvern gave a frosted smile. ‘I must be allowed to
our disguises, do we not?’ James Shorton said, ‘Is it really necessary for Miss Coupe to remain? I mean, it is most distressing to be here with . . .’ He too turned towards the body. Slevin looked at Susan Coupe’s eyes and their gentle, demure regard. ‘This won’t take much longer, sir. I assure you.’ Shorton moved to Miss Coupe’s side. Slevin saw his hand grasp hers gently. ‘Mr Koller, as I say, was a man of ambition. And when he met Richard Throstle, it appeared to him to be a heaven-sent