December 24, 2003

Died in the Wool, by Ngaio Marsh

Deb reviewed this not long ago, so I don't intend to say much about the setup.

In the books prior to this one, Marsh had begun to introduce Inspector Alleyn very late in the story; in one case, his role didn't amount to much more than a cameo. She reverses the trend here, introducing Alleyn right at the beginning, but with a twist: the murder is about a year old, and the trail is consequently muddled.

The murder took place on a remote New Zealand sheep station. Alleyn arrives there as the book opens, and spends the first half of the book listening to the four primary suspects as each one tells his or her story in detail while the others heckle. We gain a lot of information about what happened once upon a time, but there's next to no action in the present. Part of the fun of a mystery novel is following the sleuth around as he chases down blind alleys, and Alleyn remains firmly planted in a chair for far too long.

Bottom line: Marsh gets points for invention, but loses them again for tedium.

Posted by Will Duquette at December 24, 2003 03:26 PM