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While she’s waiting for the delivery of the new vacuum cleaner Agatha and her husband, Max Mallowan, have ordered, Phyllida Bright, the housekeeper at Mallowan Hall, opens an invitation to neighboring Beecham House, where “A Murder will Occur / Tonight.” Since Agatha and Max are staying in London, they can’t attend the festivities, but Agatha encourages Phyllida, who by now has quite the reputation as an amateur sleuth, to go in her stead. So Phyllida’s on hand when aspiring theatrical producer Clifton Wokesley, who’s rented Beecham House, announces a Murder Game, lies down to assume the role of the victim, and then never gets up again. Beatrice Wokesley is much too distraught over her husband’s death to be an obvious suspect, but the same allowance can’t be made for any of the other Murder Game performers: divorcée Charity Forrte; Fitchler School headmaster Hubert Dudley-Gore; Beatrice’s ex-fiance, Sir Keller Yardley; and Georges Brixton, whom everyone else accuses of having killed their host. The delayed arrival of DI Cork gives Phyllida plenty of time to take a leading role in Constable Greensticks’ tedious interviews of the suspects and then adjourn to their bedrooms, which she thoroughly searches without authorization. After Brixton predictably removes himself from the suspect list by getting shot, it seems that anyone might be guilty—at least till Phyllida begins to make enough connections to finger the real culprit.

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