With long series, it can be tough to keep the characters the same age, but tough to let them grow older too. Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh is an interesting combo. Inspector Alleyn, her main detective character, and his wife, Troy, don’t seem to have aged much, but their son Ricky is now about 21. This is the second of Marsh’s stories that feature Ricky I’ve listened to, the first being Spinsters in Jeopardy, when he was just a kid. Apparently, I’m just not a Ricky fan.
In this one, Ricky is staying at a small village on one of the Channel Islands in the British Channel off the coast of France. His plan is to write a novel, but he’s not getting very far. He has, however, gotten to know many of the always colorful locals, falls for one of the richer women even though nothing comes of it, and stumbles across a dead woman in a ditch, apparently the result of a fall while making a jump with her horse. Of course, it’s not surprise that it’s murder. There’s also a secondary plot that involves drug-running, and Inspector Alleyn show up to take care of both situations, and try to keep Ricky out of danger.
I just didn’t like Ricky. Granted, he’s a young man, a bit naive, but he gets himself into the most ridiculous situations and just walks into obvious danger. It’s no surprise he ends up kidnapped. And he just annoys me, it’s like he’s incapable of making good solid choices in life.
That being said, Alleyn, his partner Fox, are as usual pitch perfect. The locals are an interesting group and I think Marsh does particularly well with murders taking place in small, insular communities. I could do without the drug bit, it comes off as stereotypical and more, but that’s from my viewpoint today. This book was originally puclished in 1977 and she was taking the rather traditional mystery form and making it a little grittier and timely than some of her contemporaries.
Not my favorite Marsh but not bad. I haven’t disliked any of her books, although some are stronger than others. I’m glad this was not the first I’d read though, I don’t know that it’s strong enough to have tempted me into reading more of the series.
3 out of 5 stars
Category: Mystery- Police Procedural
Roderick Alleyn #29
First published 1977
8 hours 18 minutes
Narrated by Nadia May
Book source: Library
Roderick Alleyn Series
- A Man Lay Dead
- Enter a Murderer
- The Nursing-Home Murder
- Death in Ecstasy
- Vintage Murder
- Artists in Crime
- Death in a White Tie
- Overture to Death
- Death at the Bar
- Death of a Peer (APA: Surfeit of Lampreys )
- Death and the Dancing Footman
- Colour Scheme
- Died in the Wool
- Final Curtain
- A Wreath for Rivera (APA: Swing, Brother, Swing)
- Night at the Vulcan (APA: Opening Night)
- Spinsters in Jeopardy (APA: The Bride of Death )
- Scales of Justice
- Death of a Fool (APA: Off with His Head)
- Singing in the Shrouds
- False Scent
- Hand in Glove
- Dead Water
- Killer Dolphin (APA: Death at the Dolphin)
- Clutch of Constables
- When in Rome
- Tied Up in Tinsel
- Black as He’s Painted
- Last Ditch
- Grave Mistake
- Photo Finish
- Light Thickens
I’ve only read the first book in this series by Marsh, but I admit I didn’t love it enough to want to continue on. That said, the first book in a series is rarely the strongest one, so I should perhaps try one later on and see if I prefer it.
I haven’t read the first one. My first one was Overture to Death which I really liked. I don’t know if it makes a difference or not, but I have listened to all of them rather than reading them in print.
I never read this author before. Sounds interesting.
Wow, she has a lot of books o_O
I keep telling myself that I’ve going to read her books one of these days. I think I just need to get my Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart phased finished first.
I actually prefer Marsh to the couple of Rinehart’s I’ve read.
It’s been a while since I read a Marsh mystery but I’ll make sure to check that Ricky is not involved in the next one I pick up.
I’ve had Marsh on my TBR author list for a while–this encourages me to read one!