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

Amazon | IndieBound

Roderick Alleyn #29
First published 1977
8 hours 18 minutes
Narrated by Nadia May

Book source: Library

Roderick Alleyn Series

  1. A Man Lay Dead
  2. Enter a Murderer
  3. The Nursing-Home Murder
  4. Death in Ecstasy
  5. Vintage Murder
  6. Artists in Crime
  7. Death in a White Tie
  8. Overture to Death
  9. Death at the Bar
  10. Death of a Peer (APA: Surfeit of Lampreys )
  11. Death and the Dancing Footman
  12. Colour Scheme
  13. Died in the Wool
  14. Final Curtain
  15. A Wreath for Rivera (APA: Swing, Brother, Swing)
  16. Night at the Vulcan (APA: Opening Night)
  17. Spinsters in Jeopardy (APA: The Bride of Death )
  18. Scales of Justice
  19. Death of a Fool (APA: Off with His Head)
  20. Singing in the Shrouds
  21. False Scent
  22. Hand in Glove
  23. Dead Water
  24. Killer Dolphin (APA: Death at the Dolphin)
  25. Clutch of Constables
  26. When in Rome
  27. Tied Up in Tinsel
  28. Black as He’s Painted
  29. Last Ditch
  30. Grave Mistake
  31. Photo Finish
  32. Light Thickens


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