Title: Photo Finish (Inspector Alleyn #31)
Author: Ngaio Marsh
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound
Murder in High C …
A persistent paparazzi has hounded operatic soprano Isabella Sommita until her nerves are at the breaking point. Now her millionaire boyfriend, Montague Reece, has whisked her to a New Zealand island to recover. There she plans a performance of an aria written just for her– by her secret young lover, who, along with a bevy of envious celebrities, is also on the island. It’s the perfect set-up for grand opera– wild passions…and bloody murder. And when the great singer is found dead, a photo on her bosom, Superintendent Roderick Alleyn must find out who did the diva in…
Photo Finish is the second to last in Marsh’s Alleyn series and one of only a few set fully in her native New Zealand. Alleyn is on a busman’s holiday. His wife, Agatha Troy, has been invited to New Zealand to paint the diva, Isabella Sommita, and she is thrilled. Alleyn goes along at Reece’s request, to see if he can find out anything about this photographer who is stalking the Sommita. Of course, Alleyn also has a secondary purpose for going, the British have asked him to poke around a little, see if he can find any connection between the pair and the international drug trade.
As I’ve said before, I enjoy Marsh’s books most when the suspects and victim are enclosed, whether it be in an English cottage, or in this case a mansion in New Zealand cut off from the rest of the world for about 24 hours by a storm. The house is full of suspects, from the disillusioned lover to the boyfriend or even the Italian who seems to know everything and everyone. There’s also a bit of evidence that the photographer is actually hanging about, but Alleyn suspects the killer is one of the Sommita’s circle or entourage.
Marsh doesn’t always play fair with her readers; Alleyn will sometimes share his thoughts on the case with his wife or the doctor assisting him without the reader being let in on the conversation. Overall though, it’s a standard mystery. And I mean that in a good way. She portions out the clues, throws in a few red herrings, gives us some possible motives. I thought the solution was slightly melodramatic, but I guess that fits an opera singer’s death.
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
Seeing this author’s name always makes me think of you. I really need to try her work.
Another author I keep meaning to read but alas have yet to do so, you may well have provided the kick up the proverbial that I need.
I have already decided, that once I’m done reading the Agatha Christie books in order, I’m going to do the these in order.
I really enjoy them, but like so many “vintage” mysteries, some of the attitudes/stereotypes would be rather offensive today.
One day I am determined to read this series.