The Plain Old Man Author:Charlotte MacLeod "Oh you very plain old man, I love you dearly," Sarah Kelling Bittersohn sings as she gets her first nibble from the theatre bug, painting scenery for Aunt Emma Kelling, producer and prima donna of The Pirates of Pleasance. This year, Emma's troupe is doing The Sorcerer as Emma's always hankered to play Lady Sangazure wearing a bustle and ridin... more »g a high-wheeled bicycle. Perhaps she made a bad choice, though, by casting a well-connected con man in the title role. It's no mere evil spell that causes her precious ancestral portrait to vanish and leaves Charlie Daventer, as plain an old man as any director could find, dead on his own bathroom floor.
But the show must go on, Cousin Frederick, almost as plain, is hurled into the breach. Old Fred is annoyed by certain goings-on among the cast, especially those between pompous Sir Marmaduke and winsome Young Constance, but what he really can't tolerate is the general assumption that his good friend Charlie has died by accident. With a homely clue in an exotic container, he convinces Sarah that murder has been committed.
Sarah's husband, Max the detective, is off in Finland chasing a stray Picasso, so she tackles the case herself--even though it involves painting a substitute for the stolen portrait, making a daring escape from a locked potting shed, and, most perilous venture of all, going to lunch at Cousin Mabel's. Clues aren't hard to find, there are too many to start with and more popping up all the time. The problem is to sort them out and find where they lead. Sarah manages that, but even when the curtain falls, she learns he show is far from over.« less