Exit Actors, Dying

Exit Actors, DyingExit Actors, Dying by Margot Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First published in 1979, the first of the Penny Spring and Toby Glendower mysteries is showing its age a bit. Still good fun – reminds me a bit of Jane Langton, or Alisa Craig. Middle aged amateur sleuths, academia, witty, good plotting, interesting settings. I picked this up because the name Glendower is Welsh. Indeed, we are told that Tobias Merlin Glendower was born in Swansea, and that his father had been a “wild-eyed fanatic on the subject of Welsh nationalism and, for that matter, all things Welsh and wonderful. No wonder the word ‘Celt’ to Toby was like a red flag to a bull! As a compensation for the thorough brainwashing of his childhood, Toby had become almost an equal fanatic in other directions” namely Greek antiquities. He is a near genius with a photographic memory and a particular gift for languages. But it is Penny who seems to be the star of the show – described as “forty-eight years old, five-foot-one, and a dumpy five-foot-one at that.” She has her own brand of maternal instincts, the curiosity to get herself into trouble, and the ingenuity to get herself out of it again. They make a good pair.

The “who done it” was a bit convoluted, but it kept me guessing, and all the pieces fit together in the end. My only quibble was with some of the language seeming a bit racist – a black man and a Native American man described as “bucks”, for example. But it was written over thirty years ago. I definitely plan to continue with the series, and will hope that we might see something of Toby’s Welsh roots.

Book Description: American anthropologist Penelope Spring and British archaeologist Tobias Glendower are traveling in the Mediterranean. One day in a Greek amphitheatre, Penny comes upon the corpse of a beautiful young movie actress. And Toby discovers a body there too, that of a black actor decked out as a Roman gladiator. Investigating among the cast and crew filming “The Travels of Telemachus,” they encounter enough plausible suspects to confound themselves and the Turkish police. At steadily increasing risk to their lives, to be sure.