Veteran Actresses, Cat Steal Show in Mystery

"No Cooperation from the Cat" by Marian Babson
Reviewed by David Marshall James

There are no such things as aging actors-- just actors of a certain age.

Trixie and Evangeline-- former queens of American "B" movies, trodders of the stage boards, and co-stars on a T.V. sitcom-- are living it up in London.

That is, way up in a London penthouse with spectacular views of the Thames.

And, they may be currently between jobs, yet the drama never fails to find them. The comedy, too, as far as that goes.

Their penthouse has become a test kitchen for Trixie's daughter Martha's compilation of a cookbook for actors on-tour, consisting of easy-peasy recipes requiring mostly at-hand ingredients, or only a few must-grabs at the grocer's.

Martha and her editorial assistant and general dogsbody, Jocasta, have been whipping up all sorts of sweets and savories, so, as far as Trixie and Evangeline are concerned, they can go on testing recipes from hell to breakfast.

The downside to all this glorious consumption is that Jocasta has carried in a four-figure-add-on fee's worth of baggage. The up-and-coming celebrity chef who was originally in charge of the cookbook project has perished under questionable circumstances.

Soon enough, the deceased's husband-- who fancies himself a cross between Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Roosevelt, and Marco Polo-- and the three Gorgonesque cousins who sponge off him fairly break down the door to the penthouse, first accusing Jocasta of murder, then demanding Jocasta's editorial services on the widower's latest book.

Alas, Jocasta-- she has a thing for said widower, even though Trixie's and Evangeline's neighbor, Nigel, fancies the living daylights out of her.

This latest mystery novel from British author Marian Babson takes its own sweet time to brew properly, but don't depart the drama/comedy during intermission. The second act is well worth the wait. Evangeline, Trixie, and Cho-Cho the resident kitty supply entertainment from the get-go.

The ladies sparkle on their theatrical missions, whether they're planning their comeback, or visiting friend Dame Cecile Savoy backstage (she's landed in a hit play), or frolicking off champagne bubbles at their favorite restaurant, The Harpo.

As Trixie's and Evangeline's return to the stage looks ever more hopeful as this story plays out, the next entry in this long-running series might well be titled "Meow Fair Ladies."