As any mystery buff will be able to tell you – there are a few key ingredients to any successful whodunnit?

The first is a cavernous house, full of history and deceit, the second is a family with an imperious matriarch and a raffish son, and the third is a series of seemingly unsolvable murders with some manner of exotic weapon.

Luckily The Case of the Frightened Lady features all of these, and even adds a few more.

Lady Lebanon, a wealthy dowager, is holding her annual fancy dress bash at the family’s ancestral home – Mark’s Priory – when something goes amiss. A crack of thunder is followed by a horrific scream, following which the body of a guest is uncovered, the victim of a strangler.

The police are called, and what follows is a series of twists and turns to rival the best of them. Adapted from the book of the same name by Edgar Wallace, The Cast of the Frightened Lady was made for the stage. The various plot developments are met with suitably atmospheric sound effects, while the sepulchral grandiosity of the main hall positively oozes history.

Rula Lenska in particular impresses as Lady Lebanon, in a sea of lies and deceit she is a towering rock of aristocratic aloofness. Gray O’Brien too impresses as the hard-boiled Inspector Tanner, while Glenn Carter is skin-crawlingly untrustworthy as the odd manservant Guilder.

An exciting work straight from the golden age of pulp thrillers, this is a cracking night of good theatre.

The Case of the Frightened Lady runs at the Theatre Royal in Bath until Saturday. - Marion Sauvebois