‘Ronald’s statement,’ said Mortimer, ‘describes the caller as a man well advanced in years with a cracked and rather shaky voice and a suppliant tone.’
‘There must be something wrong with his phone,’ said Dame Lettie.
‘The man’s voice is strong and sinister. A man of middle years. You must remember, Henry, that I have had far more experience of the creature than anyone else.’
‘Yes, Lettie, my dear, I admit you have been greatly tried. Now Miss Lottinville, your statement … “At three o’clock in the morning … A foreigner …”’
In late 1950s London, uncanny phone calls plague a group of elderly friends: a voice on the telephone informs them: ‘Remember you must die.’ But the voice sounds different to each character, as they discover when they recount their experiences to Detective Mortimer, who chalks it up to group hysteria. The telephone in the text is a way of reaching into the lives of these elderly, wealthy characters, with the unknown interlocutor controlling their possible futures without revealing his identity. The phone invades their houses and their minds. The characters are variously confused, annoyed, and threatened by these calls, and the result is a sickening but hilarious revelation of secrets, adultery, succession dramas, blackmail and other scandals.
by Leanne Wain