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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-01-25 16:47
Money in the Morgue (Duffy, after Marsh)
Money in the Morgue - Stella Duffy,Ngaio Marsh

Reading posthumous completions of famous authors' unfinished mysteries is always a bit of a gamble, because the intrepid completers set themselves the exceedingly difficult task of replicating the very particular virtues (as well as, perhaps, a few much-excused quirks or even faults) of said famous author. In this case, I found myself somewhat disappointed, although you'll notice I still gave it three stars, which in my lexicon means "provided substantially more enjoyment than irritation".


Stella Duffy did not have a half-finished deathbed masterpiece to work with here, but rather an abandoned few chapters and associated notes for a novel started at least thirty years before Marsh's death. (This leads one to the rather obvious question of why it was abandoned, although one can only speculate). It is a wartime novel, where part of the mystery revolves, not very subtly, around treasonous activities in a remote (and apparently cave-riddled) part of New Zealand, where a military hospital and its associated morgue (in a cave) form the principal setting. Marsh's detective Alleyn is there, writing homesick letters to sidekick Fox and wife Troy, due to the national security issues, but ends up conveniently solving a local murder that becomes intertwined.


The plot's a bit sensationalist, which is only what we expect from Marsh, and the murder details are actually a little less gruesome and bizarre than in some of her work. The characters, including the Fox-substitute that Alleyn picks up, are not hugely well-developed, though one or two of them have private secrets. Lesbian attraction is a motivating factor for one character, and though it is hopeless and decried, I think there's some evidence that Duffy played down any nastiness that wasn't completely necessary to understand the plot. None of this was particularly bothersome and some entirely expected in a Marsh-mimicry.


My discomforts, such as they were, were actually with the writing, which was clunkier than Marsh's, and the unsuccessful attempt to introduce motifs and quotations from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" - they seemed terribly superimposed, whereas I always got the sense that the theatrical references in Marsh's own writing sprang spontaneously out of her own background in theatre.


There are three intertwined crimes in this story: one faked murder, one real domestic murder with mitigating circumstances, and one treasonous plot. We are clearly invited by Alleyn's musings, and explanations to pseudo-Fox at the end, to compare and contrast the outcomes for the individuals involved, and whether they are properly weighed and balanced. (Bear in mind that New Zealand still had the death penalty in the 40s). Was this rather ambiguous ending one of the reasons Marsh abandoned the project? As I say, we can only speculate.


I can't say I'm sorry that Duffy picked up the project and published it. It provided a few hours of harmless pleasure. However, to those who want to read Ngaio Marsh, read Ngaio March, not this.

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review 2015-07-18 07:53
Doctor Who: The Anti-Hero
Doctor Who: The Anti-Hero - Stella Duffy

I've been reading a number of Doctor Who novels and short stories lately, and all in all I really enjoyed them. This Time Trip short story features the Second Doctor and his companions and I have to admit that I didn't know anything about them.


So it's not possible for me to review the portrayal given in this short story. However, the story I found very interesting and I liked it a lot. It's set in Ancient Alexandria and features the Muses, thus teaching some of the old Greek mythology.


My only problem with it was that it was too short. I would have loved to read this as a longer story, perhaps a full novel.


Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Other Doctor Who novels I've read and reviewed:

* 12th Doctor:

Silhouette (Killer Origami), The Blood Cell (Prison) The Crawling Terror (Giant Insects)

* 11th Doctor:

Touched by an Angel (Weeping Angels)

* 10th Doctor:

Keeping Up With The Joneses (Strange village)

* 3rd Doctor:

The loneliness of the Long Distance Time-Traveller (Alternative England)

* War Doctor:
The Engines of War ("Ex-ter-mi-nate!")

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text 2015-07-02 15:32
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore - Stella Duffy

The style is not one I enjoy. Too much telling.  Honestly, if the death of her youngest sister hits Theodora that hard, some effort should have gone into actually showing the relationship.  When a non-character dies, it lacks impact.

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review 2014-12-08 00:00
Doctor Who: The Anti-Hero
Doctor Who: The Anti-Hero - Stella Duffy Sigue hacia abajo para encontrar la reseña en español.

I got this review copy from NetGalley.

As it happened with the short story about the Third Doctor, deep knowledge of this specific Doctor and his companions is not necessary to enjoy the story. I've only watched one story arc about the Second Doctor and I didn't have any problems understanding the characters or what was going on. Knowing who the companions are is helpful, but you don't need to have watched all their episodes. Even if you don't know who they are, you can probably enjoy this story anyway. One thing that’s important though, is to know who the Doctor is (as a whole character, not this specific Doctor) and what’s generally going on in Doctor Who, because this is not explained. This story doesn’t spend any lines introducing the characters.

I liked the references to the show and the characters. They’re small, fit well within the story and will only be noticed by people who have watched the episodes. For example, the Doctor is trying on a fez and when Jamie and Zoe tell him that it’s not him, he replies that maybe another time. It’s something that works well within the story as well as a hint about a future Doctor.

In this story, they visit Alexandria, but as this is Doctor Who, they can’t have a peaceful day. In this case, the problems take the form of the Muses, who put a spell on the people who get too close to them.

It’s an ok story that will get some smiles from fans, but I didn’t like it much. Everything felt very rushed, especially after the first half, because the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find themselves alone very soon and from that point on, the action is divided in three different points of view. It’s something that is well done and helps build up the mystery, but it doesn’t work as well as it could due to the shortness of the story. Also the ending, the threat and the aliens were just too weird and it felt more like a parody than a serious story.

2,5 stars


Al igual que ocurría en la historia corta del Tercer Doctor, un conocimiento profundo de este Doctor en concreto no es necesario para disfrutar de la historia. Sólo he visto un grupo de episodios del Segundo Doctor y no tuve ningún problema para entender a los personajes o lo que ocurría. Saber quiénes son los compañeros del Doctor ayuda, pero no necesitas haber visto todos sus episodios. Aunque no sepas quiénes son, probablemente también podrías disfrutar de la historia. Sin embargo, algo que sí es importante es saber quién es el Doctor (como personaje completo, no este Doctor en concreto) y lo que ocurre en Doctor Who en general, porque no viene explicado. Esta historia no gasta ninguna línea presentando a los personajes.

Me gustaron los guiños a la serie y a los personajes. No son muy grandes, quedan bien dentro de la historia y sólo los notarán las personas que hayan visto los episodios. Por ejemplo, el Doctor se está probando un fez y cuando Jamie y Zoe le dicen que así no es él, él responde que quizá en otro momento. Es algo que funciona bien dentro de la historia y es al mismo tiempo una pista sobre un futuro Doctor.

En esta historia visitan Alejandría, pero como esto es Doctor Who, no pueden tener un día tranquilo. En este caso, el problema toma la forma de las Musas, que hechizan a las personas que se les acercan demasiado.

Es una historia aceptable que sacará alguna sonrisa a los fans, pero no me gustó demasiado. Todo parece muy acelerado, especialmente tras pasar la primera mitad, porque el Doctor, Jamie y Zoe se encuentran solos muy pronto y desde este momento, la acción está dividida en tres puntos de vista diferentes. Es algo que está muy bien hecho y ayuda a que aumente el misterio, pero no funciona tan bien como podría, debido a la falta de longitud de la historia. Además, el final, la amenaza y los aliens fueron demasiado raros y llegó a parecer más una parodia que una historia seria.

2,5 estrellas
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review 2013-07-21 20:58
Calendar Girl (Five Star Title)
Calendar Girl - Stella Duffy When Saz is asked to look into the disappearance of a woman that's not a strange or new thing, but when the guy she's looking for doesn't know the name of this woman or even where she lives her curiousity is piqued. She searches for this girl in both London and New York, finding both complex issues and drug trafficking. Soz leans on her friends, finding that her target has links to the lesbian community. While the story is narrated by two people, the two voices weren't exceptionally distinct and I had to re-read the starts of some chapters to be sure who I was reading. When the two stories started to intertwine it became more interesting but I really wasn't moved by this story.
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