Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio Marsh

Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio Marsh Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio Marsh
Narrator: James Saxon
Series: Roderick Alleyn #15
Published by Hachette Audio UK on October 1, 2015 (first published 1949)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 52 mins
Format: Audiobook
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three-half-stars

When Lord Pastern Bagott takes up with the hot music of Breezy Bellair and his Boys, his disapproving wife Cecile has more than usual to be unhappy about. The band's devastatingly handsome but roguish accordionist, Carlos Rivera, has taken a rather intense and mutual interest in her precious daughter Felicite. So when a bit of strange business goes awry and actually kills him, it's lucky that Inspector Roderick Alleyn is in the audience. Now Alleyn must follow a confusing score that features a chorus of family and friends desperate to hide the truth and perhaps shelter a murderer in their midst.

Swing, Brother, Swing is fairly typical for Marsh. We have a dysfunctional family, headed by Lord Pastern and Baggott, whose newest obsession is playing the timpani for a swing band. Pastern’s step-daughter, Fee, is not quite but almost engaged to Carlos, who plays the accordion. Carlos is sleazy and overly jealous, and Fee is not quite sure what to do about the situation. She’s even written to an advice columnist about it. Turns out, she doesn’t have to worry. He gets killed during the band’s act. Happily, Alleyn was watching the show and loses no time starting the investigation.

We also have a young couple, Carlisle and Edward Manx. At the beginning of the book they are friends, but we see the relationship evolving as the night and day unfold. A young couple who should be together and deserve a happy ending often shows up in Marsh’s books.

The murder weapon is interesting in this one; it’s not one of the standard choices. The clues are there but buried among the red herrings. and the suspects are all managing to make themselves look guilty. It’s a good little mystery. The answer was staring me in the face and I missed it. It’s also a quick mystery. The murder happens in the evening and is solved with a day or so.

As always, I enjoyed Alleyn and Sergeant Fox’s interactions. Fox always makes me smile. Nigel Bathgate even shows up for a few minutes in this one, which was nice. Bathgate was Alleyn’s Watson in the first few of the series, a spot that was taken over by Fox who was a definite improvement, but it’s good to see him once in a while.

I wasn’t in love with the ending, but that’s okay, the rest was good enough to make up for it.

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.

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