Monday, October 29, 2012

M: Ngaio Marsh

There is a wonderful overview of the life and work of Ngaio Marsh at Crime Watch. I have only read three of her books so far, but have loved them and plan to read the rest of the Roderick Alleyn series. Here are my reviews in the order I read the books.

Last DitchLast Ditch by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read about Ngaio Marsh in a piece about the golden age of mystery writers and as I have read all of Sayers and a lot of Christie I was very excited to discover Marsh who was put in the same category of writer. It appears, based on this book that she deserves to be in the list. I was surprised by the solution to this mystery and I really liked the characters. Marsh's detective reminds me of Louise Penny's detective. The family at the center of this story had a very Great Gatsby feel about them, I'm not sure if it was the things they said and did or the writing style that left that impression, but it was definitely there.

Final CurtainFinal Curtain by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am very excited to have discovered this author--she is wonderful and has written a lot of books. This novel was different from other mysteries I have read in that the whole first half of the book takes place in the family where the crime happens, and we are there for the crime itself. Our narrator is the wife of the Chief Inspector who will be called in later to solve the crime who happens to have gotten mixed up with the family but isn't really connected. I thought the plot device was very effective as it gave the reader two very distinct views of the suspects but didn't give too much away early on. I did not figure out the murderer, right up to the arrest I thought it was someone else, but it made sense once it was revealed. The book had quite a few bits I found funny, mostly observations of human behavior, and the plot was excellently done.

A Man Lay DeadA Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had read some other Alleyn mysteries by Marsh and enjoyed them. This is the first of the series and was excellent. Alleyn is a bit of an odd-duck--reminds me of Adam Dalgleish from the P. D. James books--but is a very appealing detective as he has a self-awareness that I think makes him more interesting as a character. The mystery in this book was a traditional closed-room scenario, but had a few twists as it went along that kept it from being predictable.

This post is part of the Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 at Mysteries in Paradise. I got behind on this and am working on catching up the letters I missed.

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