Death in a White Tie by Ngaio MarshDeath in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh
Series: Roderick Alleyn #7
Published by Felony & Mayhem Press on December 15, 2012 (first published 1938)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
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Ah, the London Debutante Season: Giggles and tea-dances, white dresses and inappropriate romances. And much too much champagne. And, apparently, a blackmailer, which is where Inspector Roderick Alleyn comes in. The social whirl is decidedly not Alleyn’s environment, so he brings in an assistant in the form of Lord “Bunchy” Gospell, everybody’s favorite uncle. Bunchy is more than loveable; he’s also got some serious sleuthing skills. But before he can unmask the blackmailer, a murder is announced. And everyone suddenly stops giggling.

I love Marsh’s books. They tend to be decent puzzles and I adore the characters. In Death in a White Tie we have a glimpse of upper society London, with it’s gossip and cruelty and caring too. Some of the characters are quite self-important, but other realize how amusing it all can be. Bunchy, the victim, is someone we as the readers actually like, someone who enjoyed the season, but who understood it’s underside too. We’ve gotten to know him before he’s killed and are genuinely sad, although not surprised, when he’s dead one.

Alleyn is determined to find the killer and sure that it’s connected to the blackmailing. Alleyn is a little tough on some of the spoiled brats young people he interviews – which is good. The clues all tie together well in the end and the whodunnit was actually a bit surprising.

One of the highlights of this particular book is the developing relationship between Alleyn and Agatha Troy. I’ve been reading these out of order, picking up some at used bookstores and some on audio or my Kindle, but it’s still interesting to see the attraction between them in the early part of their acquaintance. I do wish Alleyn hadn’t been quite so over the moon though.

The dialogue is wonderful, witty and amusing. The descriptions are well done and even though there are a lot of characters, we get to know them pretty well. The plot was well done with enough red herrings to keep things interesting. I don’t feel like we were kept in the dark much this time. Sometimes Alleyn keeps things he notices from the rest of us, but I think for the most part in this one, we knew what Alleyn knew, although I for one didn’t put it together. Death in a White Tie is probably over all one of the best in the series.

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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