Review: Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh

I am so glad this wasn’t the first Marsh I had read, because I probably wouldn’t pick up another. As it is, I’m just going to assume this is not one of her better offerings and that I’ll like others as much as I did Overture to Death.

Spinsters in Jeopardy starts off promisingly enough. Inspector Alleyn, his wife, and their son are heading to the French Riviera, for Alleyn it’s business, but he brought his family along to make it into a vacation too. On the train in, he and his wife see a shocking scene through the window in a château they pass. It looks as if a woman has been killed. And it just so happens that the murder, if that’s what it was, took place at the Chateau of the Silver Goat, among the very people Alleyn wants to investigate.

From there it’s all downhill into a melodramatic view of the leisure life of the rich and famous. It’s a hodgepodge of drugs, sex, violence, kidnapping, cults, none of which is very believable. And it’s almost like Marsh can’t bring herself to just come out and say what the horrible things are, instead she refers to them vaguely, gives you enough to know what’s going on without actually telling you. There’s no real mystery, it’s more a matter of proving what vile things are happening at the manor.

Overall, I was just glad to be finished with it. The one bright spot was Alleyn’s relationship with his wife. They truly cared about each other and supported each other. Their son, however, I found obnoxious rather than charming. All the character, really, were more stereotypical than fully developed. Sometimes that works, here it didn’t.

I listened to this as an audio, which was fine. The narrator actually wasn’t over the top with any of the characters which probably helped the book some. My one complaint, though, is that there were several French phrases thrown in. I liked hearing the pronunciation, but it wasn’t always possible to tell from the rest of the story what the translation would have been. I haven’t had French since high school, so I was more than a little rusty.

I’d say skip this one. Pick up another of Marsh’s.

If you want to, though, you can purchase it on Amazon or an Indie bookstore.

2½ out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective

Inspector Roderick Alleyn #17
First published 1953
9 hours, 13 minutes
Narrated by Nadia May

Book source: Library

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