September 23, 2003

Death in a White Tie, by Ngaio Marsh

Here's yet another delightful period piece from Ngaio Marsh. It's the height of the social season, and all London is awhirl with debutantes and their chaperones, Inspector Alleyn's niece among them. But all is not well under the surface: society matrons are being blackmailed, and "Bunchy" Gospell a well-beloved man-about-town and a personal friend of Alleyn's, has been making inquiries for him. Gospell is murdered. If Alleyn can find his murderer, he'll also find the blackmailer--if only he can persuade the society matrons to help him.

It's rare to read a mystery novel and genuinely feel sad when the victim is murdered, but in this case I'm really very sorry that "Bunchy" Gospell won't be showing up in the later books. He's a finely drawn character, and has that rare quality (rare both in books and real life) of being not only intelligent and observant but also thoroughly amiable, decent, and sympathetic. It's a pity.

Posted by Will Duquette at September 23, 2003 05:09 PM

Phil said:

How about a write-in petition to bring Bunchy back? It's fiction, isn't it? Marsh can do anything.

"I can't thank the graveyard attendant enough for digging up my coffin to have another look at me. I might still be trying to get out, if not for him."

Boy, that's realism!

Will Duquette said:

Alas, we'd have to arrange to dig up Ngaio Marsh first--she died just over twenty years ago.

Reminds of the story of the man who disinterred Beethoven and was told sternly by his corpse, "Go away! Leave me alone! Can't you see I'm decomposing?"