27 JUNE 1952, Page 12

Dial M. for Murder. By Frederick Knott. (Westminster.) WivEs should

take the tip and not fail to carry a pair of scissors to the telephone when it rings op the evening when the husband is out. There is no knowing what might reach out from behind the curtains. The least said about.the mechanism of the plot the better, except to praise it for economy, smoothness and neatness. This is the best detec- tive story I have seen on the stage for a long time : the author plays scrupulously fair with the audience, keeping no clues nastily up his sleeve. We know how it comes about that Captain Lesgate (Mr. Olaf Pooley) is killed and Sheila Wendice (Miss Jane Baxter) unjustly charged and condemned, but it is our responsibility to keep up if we can with Chief Inspector Hubbard (Mr. Andrew Cruikshank) and Max Halliday (Mr. Alan MacNaughton) as they unravel the -tousled threads which can then be used to truss up Sheila's husband Tony (Mr. Emrys Jones). The dialogue is crisp, the law of relevance observed. It may be a gruesome entertainment for wives (especially for those with anything on their conscience), but for all that, and even for them, it is a more agreeable escapism than that dissected by Mr. Ackland in the play noticed above. The nervous tension of the last scene is a horrid delight.