Dead Water by Ngaio Marsh

Dead Water by Ngaio Marsh

Emily Pride is an old friend/French teacher of Inspector Alleyn and she has been receiving death threats, mostly because she want to shut down a small island's tourist trade. She recently inherited the island and finds all the hoopla around the falls distasteful. She heads off to the island to take care of the situation, but once she is hurt, Alleyn shortens his own vacation and goes to the island to watch out for her. And then, of course, there's the murder, even if it's not the murder you expect. Happily Alleyn's on the scene to take over the investigation. The characters are a mixed lot. Some are bad stereotypes that tend to pop up in vintage mysteries, like the hysterical spinster and the drunk parents of the boy whose warts were "miraculously" healed. Some are more interesting, like the innkeeper's beautiful wife. We also have assorted other locals, including the doctor, the preacher and his wife, a young couple falling in love....
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The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh

The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh

I've gone back and finally read the first 3 of Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn series, and actually read them in order to boot. Each one of these early entries is a bit better than the one before. In The Nursing Home Murder, which actually takes place in a hospital, we finally get to see a more polished Alleyn. He's still witty, but there no moments that are completely out of character as there were in the first two. These first few have been even more formulaic than vintage mysteries usually are. We meet the suspect, the murder occurs, Alleyn investigates, and finally there's a reconstruction where the murderer gives himself away. This time around, the victim is the Home Secretary. When he is rushed to the hospital, we know he's doomed, there are just too many people who want him dead, including the communists sympathizers who have been sending him death threats and a doctor who was one of his close...
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Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh

Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh

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...
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A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

Marsh's Inspector Alleyn series is one of my favorites, but I've been reading it all out of order. I finally got around to picking up the first in the series. While obviously don't think this is a series that needs to be read in order, it was nice to read this first introduction to Alleyn. A Man Lay Dead is a country house mystery and we have seven suspects, the host, his niece and five guests. Actually a couple more than that, because you have to count the servants, especially the missing butler. As always, Marsh is good with giving us clues and red herrings, even if the actual "how" the murderer did it was a bit far-fetched.This time around there's a side plot involving the dreaded Bolsheviks that really shows the era of the book. Alleyn's personality is not quite cemented yet, but this is the first. One of the guests, Nigel Bathgate, a journalist, becomes his assistant. He's kind of...
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Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh

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...
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Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh

As is often the case, Marsh spends a lot of time with the set-up and introducing the characters. This time around, we have a country house murder committed at Christmas. We spend the first half or so of the book meeting all the folks who are spending the holidays at the home. The owner of the house, Hillary Bill-Tasman, is having his portrait painted by Agatha Troy a well-known artist who also just so happens to be the wife of Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn. The house is full of eccentric guests, including the fiancée, Cressida, whose character is the only one that really screams 60s/70s to me. If it weren't for her, it could have been set in the 30s, which might have been a bit more fitting overall. There’s Uncle ‘Flea’ and Aunt ‘Bed’, a gruff old Colonel and his wife who arrive with a devoted manservant. All of the other servants are convicted, but paroled, murderers. On Christmas Eve there...
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