Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh

Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh
Narrator: James Saxon
Series: Roderick Alleyn #2
Published by Hachette Audio UK on October 1, 2015 (first published 1935)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 6 hrs 6 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads
three-half-stars

The script of the Unicorn Theatre's new play uncannily echoes a quarrel in the star's dressing room. And the stage drama gets all too real when charming Felix Gardener shoots his blustering rival, Arthur Surbonardier, dead – with a gun Arthur himself loaded with blanks. Or did he? How the live bullets got there, and why, make for a convoluted case that pits Inspector Roderick Alleyn against someone who rates an Oscar for a murderously clever performance.

I do love a good vintage mystery and in Enter a Murderer, Marsh takes us behind the scenes in a theater, which she does so well. In addition to a mystery writer, she was a theater director and knew the habits of everyone from actresses to stage managers to dressers.

Our Inspector Alleyn is attending a performance of a play with his friend from the first in the series, Nigel Bathgate. During the play, one of the characters kills another, but this time the gun goes off for real, leaving an actor dead. The play does go on, as they say, but after the curtain closes, Alleyn, is immediately called up and begins his investigation.

Once again, Bathgate is Alleyn’s Watson. Fox has a bigger part here, I’m glad to see. I’m hoping by the next one he’s the permanent sidekick. I like Bathgate, I just like Fox more. Here, Bathgate is kind of stuck between a rock and hard place. He wants to be important, to help Alleyn, but he’s also an old friend of one of the cast members, the one who shot the gun and who is definitely a suspect.

Alleyn is a little more consistent and I like his sense of humor. There was one scene that was ridiculous, but I can overlook it.

Marsh always does a good job with her secondary characters. Here we have actors and actresses for the most part, which makes it harder on Alleyn. The suspects can act innocent or shocked or whatever much better than the average person. At the same time, he gets annoyed at their melodrama, and you wonder if Marsh sometimes felt that way about her own actors.

I wasn’t exactly surprised by who the killer was, there were several clues to get us there, but I did appreciate it, if that makes sense. I thought this one was better than the first, A Man Lay Dead, but Marsh hasn’t quite hit her groove yet.

About Ngaio Marsh

Dame Ngaio Marsh (23 April 1895 – 18 February 1982), born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1966.

Internationally Marsh is known primarily for her creation Inspector Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective who works for the Metropolitan Police (London). Thus she is one of the “Queens of Crime” alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, and Margery Allingham.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

5 Comments

  1. I still have a bunch of Christie and Tey books to read on my shelves and I have read all the Lord Peter books (I think?). But I would like to move on to Marsh and Allingham’s works as well. I like the satisfaction of finding out how a well plotted murder mystery plays out but also I really like all the period details that one finds in these books!

    • I’ve read a lot of Christie and a couple of Sayers, but only one Tey. I don’t think I’ve gotten around to reading any of Allingham’s yet. I agree, I like the mystery, but often it’s the era that draws me to these.

  2. Pingback: The Classics Club – Carol's Notebook

Leave a comment