October 09, 2003

Death of a Peer, by Ngaio Marsh

This is the book that turned Deb English back on to Ngaio Marsh after reading one or two that she didn't much care for. Unlike her previous two books it's set in London, but like them she spends a great deal of time developing the characters before the murder occurs. Usually she adopts a relatively omniscient point of view when she does this, but in this case she gives us a delightful viewpoint character, a young woman named Roberta Grey.

Roberta is a native of New Zealand. Her parents die, and as she's not quite old enough to live on her own she comes to England to live with a maiden aunt. First on the agenda, though, when she arrives is a blissful month with old friends, the Lampreys. The Lampreys are an amazing crowd of popinjays who bought a farm in New Zealand on a whim; Roberta became acquainted with them through Frid Lamprey with whom she was in school, and soon became close friends with the entire family. The Lampreys are eternally having money trouble--it flows through their fingers like sand-- and yet are equally unable to give up their ritzy life-style. Something always happens, and they are saved for another day.

I didn't warm up to the Lampreys quite as much as Debbie did--this is far from my favorite Marsh--but it's a good 'un none the less.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 9, 2003 07:30 PM