Monday, May 14, 2012

ARTISTS IN CRIME - Ngaio Marsh - Book Review

I had completely forgotten about Inspector Roderick (Rory) Alleyn until my friend Lisa reminded me.  Dame Ngaio Marsh wrote over 30 books with British detective Alleyn as the superstar.

I'm not one to necessarily read a series in order (which surprises me since I like order). Years ago I read Death in a White Tie written in the late 1930's and liked Marsh's style but then forgot about her.  Last year I enjoyed the book Last Ditch written in the late 70's which is about a drug smuggling case and includes Inspector Alleyn's son.

This year, I read Artists in Crime, the story that introduces Rory to his future wife, the painter Agatha Troy. What fun to see a very confident and sure of himself Alleyn get a little wobbly and doubtful when paired up with no nonsense Troy.  The story opens with Alleyn meeting Troy on a ship somewhere around Fiji.  It doesn't go well and they split once they return to England.  Their next meeting is rather grim.  A model posing for Troy's art class is murdered and every member of the class, including Agatha Troy, a suspect.  And, of course, Inspector Alleyn is assigned the case.

The detective work is interesting, the characters very well-developed (I could always tell who was doing the talking), and the usual folks that surround Alleyn are in force.  The relationship between Alleyn and his mother, Lady Alleyn, reminds me a bit of Lord Peter Wimsey and his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver.  A solid murder mystery, excellent returning characters, humor, and a bit of romance equals a good read.

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