Title: Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson
Genre: Historical (60s), Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
In this sparkling debut novel imbued with the rich intrigue of Kate Atkinson’s literary mysteries and the spirited heart of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, a disparate group of Londoners plunge into a search for a missing American actress.
In the dreary days of November 1965, American actress Iolanthe Green has become the toast of the West End. Charismatic, mysterious, and beautiful, she brings color and a sprinkling of glamour to the scuffed boards of Soho’s Galaxy Theatre. But one evening, after another rapturously received performance, Iolanthe walks through the stage door, out into the cold London night, and vanishes.
All of London is riveted as Fleet Street speculates about the missing actress’s fate. But as time passes and the case grows colder, the public’s interest turns to the unfolding Moors Murders and erupting political scandals. Only Anna Treadway, Iolanthe’s dresser at the Galaxy, still cares. A young woman of dogged determination with a few dark secrets of her own, she is determined to solve the mystery of the missing actress.
A disparate band of London émigrés—an Irish policeman, a Turkish coffee-house owner and his rebellious daughter, and a literature-loving Jamaican accountant—joins Anna in her quest, an odyssey that leads them into a netherworld of jazz clubs, backstreet doctors, police brutality, and seaside ghost towns. Each of these unusual sleuths has come to London to escape the past and forge a new future. Yet as they draw closer to uncovering the truth of Iolanthe’s disappearance, they may have to face the truth about themselves.
Set in London during late 1965, Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson is mystery about an American actress who disappears after her performance at a local theater.
When Iolanthe “Lanny” Green fails to show up for work Monday afternoon, her dresser, Anna Treadway, is concerned but she is certain Lanny is just running late. However, when she misses the next day’s performance as well, she is reported missing and the local newspapers run with story. Detective Sergeant Barnaby Hayes is assigned to the investigation but he is making little headway as he searches clues that will help him locate the missing actress. When public interest wanes, Anna takes it upon herself to do a little amateur sleuthing on her own and she finds some very interesting details about Lanny but will the information she uncovers help her find the missing woman?
The investigation into Lanny’s disappearance is interesting and takes some very unexpected twists and turns. Unfortunately, the bulk of the storyline is not focused on the mystery surrounding the missing woman. Readers are instead introduced to a number of people whom Anna either already knows or she meets during her search for Lanny. DS Hayes is the only person in an official capacity trying to find Lanny and even he is facing prejudice from the people he works with. The unfolding story is a little convoluted and disjointed and feels more like social commentary for the diverse characters who are involved in the search for the actress. Each of the characters’ issues are interesting and thought-provoking but the mystery element of the story quickly feels like an afterthought.
Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson is a fascinating peek into lives of an eclectic and diverse set of characters in London during the mid 1960s. The mystery surrounding Lanny’s disappearance is quite intriguing and all of the loose ends about what happened to the actress are completely wrapped up by the novel’s conclusion.