Theatre of Death: A Puzzle
"I really would be most grateful if you could help, Miss Marple." said Inspector West. Miss Marple got out her knitting bag, and began to knit. "Yes, yes, do go on, my dear Inspector." The Inspector got out his notebook, and glanced at it: "Well, this is what you might call a theatrical murder. Both husband and wife were on the stage, you see, in variety acts. It was the wife who had been killed. “
“Apparently, she used to be the husband's assistant, before her own career took off. From friends, I gathered she was the bright one of the pair - plenty of sparkle, they said. She had gone out one morning and never returned. Later her body was found near the canal -strangled. We traced an old drunk by there, who recalled two women struggling."
"What was the husband like?" asked Miss Marple, as her knitting needles clacked merrily away.
"Friends said that he was not too smart. A bit of a dummy. Then they laughed. I didn't realise what they meant until I saw inside the flat. There on the sofa was a ventriloquist's dummy, an obscene grin on its juvenile features. I interviewed the husband, and he brought out her handbag, which it seems she left behind. Inside, her diary confirmed that she had a meeting with 'Sandra' beside the canal, at 11.00 -and that was the time of death, give or take five minutes.”
“I also questioned him about the breakup of their act, and he commented that she did not like a man who used a high-pitched squeaky voice in their act. So many loose ends. How do they tie up?"
"I am reminded so much of Mrs Smith's little housemaid," said Miss Marple, "She never could distinguish between mushrooms and toadstools."