Monday 24 April 2017

Evocative tale set in brutal, murky underworld of 1960s London

CRIME

Miss Treadway & The Field of Stars

Miranda Emmerson

Harper Collins

€13.99

Margaret Carragher

Sometimes one can indeed judge a book by its cover. With its illustration of an old-fashioned, double-decker London bus and the arresting strapline, 'How do you find a missing actress in a city where everyone's playing a role?' Miranda Emmerson's debut novel is an intriguing and wonderfully atmospheric tale.

Set in mid-1960s London, it opens with a cutting from Harper's Bazaar in October 1965, extolling the virtues of Iolanthe 'Lanny' Green, an American actress currently in rehearsals for a new production of The Field of Stars, due to open shortly in the West End.

The following page features a cutting from The Times of London dated November 2, 1965, reporting the actress's disappearance, with the Metropolitan Police requesting the assistance of the public in tracing the whereabouts of Miss Green, who left London's Galaxy Theatre at 11.20pm on Saturday, October 30 and was last seen walking south down the Charing Cross Road. From here the narrative rewinds to Iolanthe's final stage performance, and the interaction between her and her dresser, the mysterious and enigmatic Anna Treadway. Following Iolanthe's disappearance, Fleet Street goes wild with speculation as to her fate.

But the glamorous actress soon becomes yesterday's news, supplanted in the headlines by the unfolding horror of the Moors Murders and various political shenanigans. As the case grows colder, it seems Anna Treadway is the only person left determined to find out the truth. And so, via Anna, we meet a motley group of London emigres - an Irish policeman, a Jamaican accountant, a Turkish cafe-owner and his wayward daughter among others - who come together, hopefully to solve the mystery of Iolanthe's disappearance.

An evocative and perceptive tale from an author to watch.

Sunday Independent

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