Comments: 30
BrokenTune 2 years ago
When the village was described at the beginning of the book, Marsh specifically sets the houses of the commoners apart from the main protagonists of the story. It made me pause. The map really makes it even more visible.
Mike Finn 2 years ago
Yes, and the use of the word 'desmesnes', which must have been obsolescent by 1955, is another hat tip towards a feudal mindset.
Portable Magic 2 years ago
This sounds intriguing. I'm a little sorry I missed out on this buddy read. The book looks old, has it been republished, or is it on ebook format?
Mike Finn 2 years ago
It's from 1955 and is available as an ebook and as an audiobook.
BrokenTune 2 years ago
The audiobook is nice. The narrator seems to strike a nice pace and intonation for each character.
I love the audiobook; Phillip Franks (the narrator) really nails the different characters, as well as the tone and the setting. Then again, the print (or ebook) edition is worth taking a look at for the map alone.
Portable Magic 2 years ago
Looks like my library has about half of the series on ebook, but not this particular one. I guess it's not necessary to read the series in order?
Some, but not all of the books. This is one you can read out of order (which is one of the many reasons why I suggested it). Two books that should be read early on are "Artists in Crime" and "Death in a White Tie" (or at least the second of these two). They're the books where Alleyn meets and wooes his wife-to-be, a painter named Agatha Troy (mostly referred to by her last name, even after their marriage). She features in quite a number of books, and the back story of their marriage is one of the few items of continuity to the series. -- Apart from the "Troy" books there are also a few other books that are loosely tied together by reappearing characters, but Troy is the one person where reading "in order" -- or at least, reading the two books about the beginning of their story first -- does make sense.

What are the books that your library has on offer?
Portable Magic 2 years ago
Well that's good news, because my library has both of those. These are the ones available:
A man lay dead; Enter a murderer, The nursing home murder, Death in ecstasy, Vintage murder, Artists in crime, Death in a white tie, Death at the bar, Overture to death, Surfeit of lampreys, Colour scheme, Death and the dancing footman, Died int he wool, Night at the vulcan, Final curtain, Swing brother swing.
I haven't done a one-on-one check, but it seems to me that's pretty much all the first books in the series, sequentially (I'm sure about the first 7 and reasonably sure about the others -- and even if those others are not exactly in sequence, they're all early books). That said, it's not necessary to start with the very first ones -- perhaps not even advisable (definitely not re: "Death in Ecstaxy"). And maybe, as I said, it's not even necessary to start with "Artists in Crime", as long as you read "Death in a White Tie" early on. Though that may be my personal bias speaking; I'm decidedly more of a fan of DiaWT than of AiC ...
Mike Finn 2 years ago
I'm going to give Artisits In Crime a go. I'm curious to see what something written seventeen years earlier looks like. I'm also curious about changes in tone, pre and post WWII.
Portable Magic 2 years ago
Maybe I'll start with DiaWT, then circle back to the first book in the series and read them in order from there.
I'd move forward from DiaWT (or if backwards, at most to books 5 and 6, "Vintage Murder" and "Artists in Crime"). You can always circle back later -- the first 5 books are not necessary "must have reads" for purposes of just about anything.

That said:

* You may want to try and get your hands on a collection named "Death on the Air and Other Stories" -- or if not the entire collection, at least the first entry in it, which is not a short story but a biographical essay (of sorts) that Marsh wrote on Alleyn, and which is rather informative (particularly if you're just starting the series).

* @All: "Death in a White Tie" definitely is my suggestion for (y)our next book by Marsh, whenever that's going to be. (It would have been anyway, but even more so in light of the above discussion.) Now that you've met Alleyn (and Fox), it's definitely time you also met Troy. The setting couldn't be any more different -- from the post-WWII "Valley of Dreams" we're moving to the interwar London of debutantes and socity balls -- but Alleyn moves as sure-foootedly in one as he does in the other, and the mystery is a fiendish puzzle ... findish in more senses than one.
Portable Magic 2 years ago
Thanks for the recs, TA. I went ahead and used an Audible credit for "Death on the Air and Other Stories". I'll start with that one to get the background, then DiaWT, then go back to book #5 and work forward from there. You're correct, the first 16 books are all in my library. At the rate I read, I'll never run out of books.
These are fast reads. :D

I'd probably only read the Alleyn essay first (and maybe the one on Troy, if you're going to start with DiaWT) and spread out the rest of the short stories between the books. Some, but by far not all of them feature Alleyn (one also Troy) -- and one is set in Marsh's home country, New Zealand. (As are several of the novel-length mysteries; of those available in your library, "Vintage Murder" and "Colour Scheme" -- and a few others have somewhat minor NZ references, e.g. with characters born there.)

I really like the books set in NZ, but I'd advise waiting a bit with those until you've first met Alleyn on his home turf -- there's no denying that he's playing an away game there, even if he's being graciously invited into the investigation by the obliging locals.
Portable Magic 2 years ago
Awesome. I've got a tracking spreadsheet for all these classic mystery series, so I can keep up with which to read when and mixing them with my other reads.
I knew there'd be at least one more lover of spreadsheets on this site ... :D
Great review!
Abandoned by user 2 years ago
Really great review, and I agree with you.

England is a place with such a deep literary history that I'm not sure it's possible to separate real England from book England without living there. My entire concept of England is a mashup of Dickens, Doyle, Christie, Sayers, Heyer and many others. The whole place is just something that exists in my head as a lit-scape, not a landscape.
Mike Finn 2 years ago
To some extent, all Englands are fictional. There's a famous satirical book called "1066 And All That" that gives a slightly exageratted version of the mythical English history that was taught at Public Schools. It's a Whig view of why England is exceptional but it was presented as THE narrative, not A narrative. Nowadays, we live in a land of competing narratives and very few source materials, which makes most histories as fictional as any novel and often are less well-grounded in real life.

I didn't visit the US I was in my thirties. Like you, I had a lit-scape in my head. I remember experiencing a kind of double vision the first time I went to Manhattan or Boston or Chicago because so much was famliar but actually imagined. Of course, afterwards, I found the books had changed as my memory filled in the blanks in the descriptions.

Portable Magic 2 years ago
That's actually a sort of fun idea that I've never really thought much about, but yes, my concept of England is a weird combination of lit-scape and public television shows. Except my London is a mishmash of Aaronovitch and Galbraith, with all other towns looking like wherever Hyacinth lives next door to the Dursleys. The rest of England is exactly like Hobbiton, confirmed by the wide shots we see in The Great British Bake Off.
Have you read Anna Quindlen's "Imagined London"? It's subtitled "A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City" and describes her experience visiting the London sites and neighborhoods made famous by literature. It's one of the books that go into my suitcase everytime I'm planning a trip to London. (It's slim, too, so it's a fast read ... and doesn't take much extra weight when packing.)
Portable Magic 2 years ago
I haven't and I think I should! I'll look for it.
Mike Finn 2 years ago
This one's new to me but it sounds fun. I wonder if something similar could be done for Liverpooll or Edinburgh?
I bet it could -- for plenty of places around England (and the UK generally).
Abandoned by user 2 years ago
Also, L.A., in the U.S., for sure, as well as NYC. And of course, everything I know about Cornwall I got from various gothic romances, Du Maurier, and Rosamund Pilcher. There are still smugglers bringing in whiskey by moonlight in the Cornwall of my mind.

I smell another fun little project - LitScapes we have loved. We could pick a place, and then throw some books at it.
Sounds phantastic! I've (um) actually made bits and pieces of the British litscape part of my visits to the UK in the last couple of years. Anybody interested in a bit of visual bywork to this project by any chance? I'd definitely love to see the places others have visited!

(I've been thinking about this for a while but so far hadn't even broached the question because I didn't want this to come across as some sort of "look where I've been" brag. Though, full disclosure, a few days ago I started putting together a "Midsomer Murders" post for Jennifer('s Books), because we're both fans of the series and it's one way I can say thank you and reciprocate for all her lovely art appreciation posts. But I'll stop with that one post -- whenever it's ready to go up -- if nobody else is interested.)
Abandoned by user 2 years ago
I would love to see any and all pictures, although I have none of my own to share. Sadly.

Armchair travel would be especially awesome right now - since real world travel is out of the question.
That was part of my thinking with the "Midsomer" post ... which can, incidentally, also serve as a sort of Christie post, since some of the rural episodes of "Poirot" and "Miss Marple" were filmed in the same locations (though I don't have as precise an episode guide as I have for the "Midsomer Murders" series).
Portable Magic 2 years ago
I'd love to see your photos, but I travel very little and really have none to share. Although if anyone needs to fill in their lit-scape of Texas I will gladly go get those photos for you! Once this pandemic is over, of course.