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A short discussion of The China Governess (1962), and then some debate on the nature/nurture questions it provokes, from May/June 2006.  Read the rest of this entry »

The most ambitious programme I embarked upon in the past few months was a chronological reading of the work of John Dickson Carr. Unfortunately this did not get very far because I fairly soon became tired of his books for reasons which I will explain below. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh –  Sisters In Jeopardy (1954)

Sisters in Jeopardy is a very odd entry in the Marsh canon. Alleyn, with Troy and young son Ricky in tow, set off to the South of France. Their purpose is, on Alleyn’s part to investigate an international drugs ring, whilst also having a family holiday; they also wish to make contact with a Mr Garbel who has written to Troy claiming to be her second cousin and happens to live in Rocqueville, which is near the house Alleyn has to penetrate. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh happens to be one of the few writers whom I have approached with any degree of system in terms of reviewing. This is not to say that I have reviewed all her books by any means, but I do have reasonably strong recollections of the vast majority which enables me to produce a ranking list – something of which I am inordinately fond. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Off With His Head (1957)

Mrs Bunz, a near obsessional folk-lorist, arrives at the tiny villages of East and West Mardian in the hope of witnessing the annual performance of the Dance of the Five Sons, an ancient mumming rite. Although she is rudely rebuffed by both Dame Alice Mardian, the matriarchal owner of Mardian Castle where the Dance takes place, and William Anderson the patriarchal blacksmith who is its’ main organiser, she manages to attend the performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – False Scent (1960)

Mary Bellamy, a famous and adored comedienne, is preparing for he 50th Birthday Party. Her mood is upset by the fact that one of her younger rivals, Kate Cavendish, has just been given the lead in a new play, which will be designed by Bertie Saracen, whom Mary considers her personal property, ; her mood gets even worse when she discovers that her ward and protege, Richard Dakers, has written a new play, a serious one, which is intended not for her but for the young actress with whom he is in love, Anelida Lee and will be directed by another of Mary’s friends Timon Gantry. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Artists in Crime (1938)

On his way back from New Zealand, where he has been solving the case of Vintage Murder, Alleyn meets the artist Agatha Troy (hereafter always known as Troy) on the boat and promptly falls in love. When she arrives back in England Troy goes to her house at Tatler’s End where she is running a course for a disparate group of artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh: Grave Mistake – 1978

Verity Preston, a playwright, lives in the village of Upper Quintern, a
fairly typical specimen of the GA village (although this book was written in
1978). Among her neighbours are Sybil Foster a self-dramatising and rich
divorcee and her daughter Prunella, the millionaire newcomer Nikolas Markos and his son Gideon, and the new gardener – called (a very Marsh sort of joke) Gardener who’s services are much in demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Last Ditch (1977)

Rickie Alleyn, son of Alleyn and Troy, has come to ‘the island’ (unnamed but
must be a Channel Island) to write a novel. He has an introduction from his
parents to the local gentry in the form of the mildly eccentric Pharamond
family, and falls in love with the elegant and exotic Julia, much to her
amusement. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Black as He’s Painted (1974)

Samuel Whipplestone, recently retired from the Foreign Office, buys a
house in Capricorn Walk, a quaint London backwater. The house comes with a sitting tenant in the basement flat and a couple of servants , Mr and Mrs
Chubb, who live on the top floor.

Read the rest of this entry »

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January 2023