Comments: 3
BrokenTune 1 week ago
One of these days I'll need to meet my first Ngaio Marsh mystery. How do her books compare to the likes of Agatha etc.?
She's got her ups and downs -- I rather like her detective, Roderick Alleyn, and even more so his wife Troy (a very independent artist whom he meets in book 6 of the series and whose actual first name, by which nobody addresses her, though, is Agatha). IMHO her best books are those set in her native NZ and those set in the theatre world, in which she was at home in her "main job" (she was a successful stage director, of Shakespearean plays first and foremost, before she ever wrote her first mystery; her detective's last name is a deliberate bow nod to Edward "Ned" Alleyn). I also like some of her "English village" mysteries. Her biggest no-nos (again IMHO, obviously) are mysteries dealing with the drug trade and with pseudo-religious sects (of neither of which she had any clue whatsoever, and thus those books are riddled with wildly unrealistic notions). Her early books -- this one is the second book she ever wrote -- are a bit formulaic and awkwardly-constructed, but she got the hang of that as the series progressed and her later plot constructions are much more assured. She actually does play fair with the reader in most books; but like in Christie's, you have to be on your toes to see the clues for what they are ... and in her "theatre mysteries", it's fair to say that Alleyn has a vastly better grip of that world and its "behind the scene" goings-on than the average theatre goer ... or policeman.

@MbD: Nigel Bathgate is only a sort-of-sidekick in a few of the early books; Alleyn's "real" sidekick is Inspector / "Br'er" Fox ... and of course, once they have met, his wife(-to-be) Agatha.

All that being said, apologies for butting in! :)
Murder by Death 1 week ago
@TA: You're not butting in at all! You know Marsh way better than I do, especially as this is my first and only so far. Your knowledge is vastly appreciated.

@BT: To answer your question, re: comparison to AC, I'd say the writing style shares some similarities, though probably more because it was the style of the time. The detectives are totally different; I like Alleyn much more than I like Poirot; he's less arrogant, or, actually not, but in this book at least, the arrogance was tongue in cheek - he was laughing at himself a bit. The plotting in this one though is not nearly as intricately done as Christie's average-or-better books. It was good, but imho, a tad forced.

@TA (again): I figured Bathgate wasn't a 'stayer' - but I liked Fox quite a bit too, what little we saw of him, so I'm not too disappointed. I'll definitely try to avoid the drug-trade and pseudo-religious ones when picking up future Marsh books, but her strength in the theatre is likely going to keep me from really getting into her work. You know how there's just some subject areas that leave you feeling 'meh', no matter how well they're handled? Books that involve the stage and carnivals are like that for me; I think it has something to do with the inherent unreliability of most of the characters. Maybe?