A Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh

A Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh

I'm running out of Ngaio Marsh books. :( A Grave Mistake is one of the last of Marsh's books. It was written in the late 70s but set earlier than that I think and still has the Golden Age feel that most of her stories do. We have a small English village, a beautifully maintained Georgian house owned by Sybil Foster, a rather snobbish, but attractive middle-aged widow who has recently hired a talented gardener. She has a daughter who is engaged, much to Sybil's annoyance, to the son of a Greek millionaire instead of a man with a title. Sybil goes to a nearby hotel/spa for rest and maybe to secure the attentions of the doctor on staff. Of course, she ends up dead. At first, it's considered suicide, but evidence soon points to murder, which is why Alleyn is called in. Alleyn has Fox with him on this case, and I do enjoy the pair of them. They get...
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Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

This is the second boat mystery I've read recently. This one is a river cruise that Alleyn's wife, Troy, has booked on a whim. David and I have talked before about doing a cruise on the Mississippi before and I started looking at options the other day, thinking that planning a vacation is always a good way to pass the time, especially when we're all stuck inside. Looks like we could do a 5 day round trip in from New Orleans for between $2000-$3000 per person. I requested a brochure. We could plan one around Amber's school schedule I think. But, of course, the river cruise in Clutch of Constables includes a murder. All along, Troy has felt that something odd is going on. Granted, the folks on the ship are an unusual lot, as any random group of people in murder mysteries is, but even at that, she keeps getting strange feelings. I like Troy. She's a well-known painter, smart,...
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Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh

Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh

The Final Curtain has a lot of similarities to many of Marsh's other mysteries. We've got a country house party. Inspector Alleyn doesn't show up until about halfway through. We've got a young couple who are meant to be together but have difficulties in the way. We've got a tie to both art and the theater. But Marsh winds these bits together with a pretty terrible family and comes up with an enjoyable mystery that had me stumped. WW 2 is over and Agatha Troy is waiting for her husband, Inspector Alleyn to return from New Zealand. To pass the last couple of weeks, she accepts a commission that takes her to Ancreton Manor to paint a portrait of Sir Henry Ancred, a famous Shakespearean actor in his Macbeth costume. The first half-ish of the book shows us the Ancred family from Troy's point of view and they are overall a melodramatic, argumentative bunch, not people to enjoy spending...
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Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio Marsh

Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio Marsh

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...
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Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh

Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh

I love mysteries, but if I had to narrow the genre down to my favorite type, I'd pick vintage mysteries. Even narrower, I'd go with country house mysteries, preferably at Christmastime, but winter will do. Death and the Dancing Footman is one of those. Our Inspector Roderick Alleyn doesn't show up until about 2/3rds through. Usually that annoys me, but Marsh tends to make it work. This time around, it gives us plenty of time to meet all of the guests. Jonathan Royal is the owner of the country house and the host of the house party. He is rather not a good person. He's invited a group of people who will quite clearly not get along well. The Compline family consists of the mother Sonia and her two sons, William who is excessively devoted and Nicholas, her favorite. William is engaged to another guest, Chloris Wynne, who used to be engaged to Nicholas. Sonia's friend, Hersey Amblington, who owns a spa and...
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Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh

Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh

Death of a Fool takes place around the winter solstice. In South Mardian, a sword dance/fertility ritual/mummer play is performed every year, but this time, the fool (the father) is actually beheaded. I don't know anything about English folk dances, but the dance featured in Death of a Fool is interesting. Granted, it's a fictional dance, but the author tells us that she did use elements from a variety of traditional dances. Reading about the rehearsals, the performance, the costume and the history was fun. The dance is performed by the elderly blacksmiths, his five sons and a couple of other village men. They are also the most obvious suspects, especially the sons as they were the ones with the sword during the dance. Of course, the other performers have motives too. There are so many reasons to kill the old man: anger revenge, money, and just to get him out of the way. Alleyn is called in to investigate. In a small...
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