June 29, 2003

Light Thickens, by Ngaio Marsh

I have tried to read other books by Marsh with little success. I was browsing the bookshelf culling the unwanteds for space and put most of them in the sell back box but this one I hung onto. And it caught me.

Peregrine Jay is directing "MacBeth" at the Dolphin theater in London, hoping for a smashing success and a long run. The first half of the book is the telling of his casting of the characters, the initial rehearsals with blocking and choreographing the swordfight. Everything is perfect, right down to the reproduction swords and claymore used on stage. Unfortunately, someone has taken the curse of MacBeth seriously and fake MacBeth heads made as props for the end scene keep turning up in the wrong places. And on opening night, the real MacBeth's head ends up dripping from the pike as the curtain falls, stunning the cast.

Thank heavens, Inspector Alleyn was in the front row. And thank heavens the killer confesses since Alleyn is nowhere close to solving the mystery as the book closes. In fact, I don't think he had a clue. Which was exactly my problem with the rest of the novels; they just sort of wander around. This one just happened to have the wonderful lead up of the play to catch and hold my attention. And the use of a Maori guy as one of the witches. But I won't be buying anymore. Sigh.

Posted by Deb English at June 29, 2003 07:46 AM

Will Duquette said:

How odd that you don't like Marsh's books! I think they are a treat. I agree that they do sort of wander about, but isn't that what a detective does? He wanders about, following this lead and that, and talking to everyone? And that's the part I like about Marsh--she does fun characters. I enjoy watching Alleyn interact with them.

Many of her later books use the same technique of having a long section at the beginning that reads more like a standard novel than a mystery, with Alleyn coming in about halfway through.

Deb said:

yeah, you'd think so wouldn't you! I even tried the one titled "Died in the Wool" which should have been right up my ally and got bored about a third of the way in. Maybe it's timing. It took me two or three attempts to appreciate P.D James and you know I like her, alot. I usually never write off authors totally. Someday.....