This week I finished the next book in the series, Night at the Vulcan. I was glad that I had returned to the series, rediscovering Alleyn, his colleagues, and the charming writing of Ngaio Marsh.
From the Goodreads page for Ngaio Marsh:
Marsh was also very involved in the theater, and several of her novels center around art and artists or theatrical productions. Early the series, in Artists in Crime, Alleyn meets noted artist Agatha Troy, and they later marry. Besides Night at the Vulcan, these other books involve actors and acting:
I am featuring this book as my selection for the Crime Fiction Alphabet for 2012 for the letter N. Please visit the post at Mysteries in Paradise to check out other entries.
My thoughts on this book:
This was a very enjoyable vintage mystery novel. The story is pretty much equally divided between setting up the scene and arriving at the murder, followed by the detection and solution of the murder. The murder does not even occur until halfway through the story and this time, Alleyn and his team don’t show up until then also.
The story is set in the theater, and revolves around the arrival of a young, aspiring actress who is without funds and desperate for any job in the acting company. Martyn Tarne has recently arrived in England from New Zealand. The story of Martyn’s acceptance into the acting company was delightful and fun. A nice change from some of the more serious mysteries I read. I am a sucker for a romance in a story, whether it is believable or not. The descriptions and characterization of other participants in the company (actors, author of the play, director, costumers) were entertaining. There were snarky characters and loveable characters.
In this mystery, the story building up to the murder is better than the detection half of the book. In the first half of the book, the pacing is good; the story builds, the tension builds. The tensions between the characters are evident. The reader knows it is going to come to a head and someone will die. Who will it be? But when the police come on the scene the pacing slows; there are dead spots. I had picked out the murderer early on, but I had the motive entirely wrong, and by the time I was a good way into the book, I had decided I had to be wrong.
Here are a few other resources on the mysteries of Ngaio Marsh that I found entertaining and useful:
- Marsh Madness at In So Many Words...
- Margot Kinberg featured an overview of Roderick Alleyn for the Letter A for the Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012
- At the Golden Age of Detection Wiki, an article on Ngaio Marsh with analysis by Mike Grost and a bibliography with links to reviews.