Sunday, August 8, 2010
Death at the Bar
by Ngaio Marsh
Ottercombe seems like an idyllic getaway spot for three friends. Small, quaint and with a favourite watering hole, the Plume of Feathers, fondly remembered from their first visit a year ago. Things suddenly don't seem so friendly when one of the trio dies suddenly after a stunt with the pub dart board goes wrong. When Luke Watchman holds his hand up against the dart board, and Robert Legge plays miss the fingers, then doesn't, every one thinks the turn Watchman has is an attack of the vapours at the sight of his own blood, until he ends up very dead.
Naturally everyone's suspicions turn to Legge, who was on the business end of the darts, but then, all is not as it seems in Ottercombe, and a number of people present have reason to see the back of Watchman. Throw in the recent purchase of some cyanide to deal with a rat problem and it becomes apparent Watchman was somehow poisoned. Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn and his trusty side-kick Fox have to sort out the lies and deceptions, and at some personal risk.
I really enjoyed Death at the Bar. It was a compelling story with twists and turns, and this novel in particular demonstrates in a very touching way the depth of the relationship between Alleyn and Fox. Ngaio Marsh doesn't shy away from politics in her novels, and in this one we have a number of the characters card carrying members of the Coombe Left Movement, which adds colour and passions political. Throw in a beautiful woman, a famous actor and plenty of yokels and it makes for a good read.