Monday, June 7, 2010

Death in a White Tie

By Ngaio Marsh (1938)

The debutante season is a highly competitive display of social standing in London. Debutantes and their chaperones plan grand events to ensure the young woman are properly brought out into the world.

It is a cut-throat world and into the mix a blackmailer is stalking prey. Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn has planted his good friend Lord Robert (Bunchy) Gospell into the scene, but when Bunchy meets his untimely demise the race is on to find the blackmailer and see if murder has been added to the list of crimes.

The back cover blurb of my copy of the book includes this endorsement from Dashiell Hammett - "Ngaio Marsh's Death in a White Tie is the best detective story I have ever read..."

I have to confess I struggled with this book. I think it I got bogged down in all of the social stuff, getting overwhelmed trying to figure out my Halcut-Hacketts from my Carradoses, and a myriad of people in between. I did enjoy the book more towards the end when the pace picked up and everything was starting to unfold. I also enjoyed seeing more of Alleyn's relationship with Troy unfold.

It was okay, but it wasn't my favourite Ngaio Marsh book


Anonymous said...

Vanda - Thanks for this review. I have to admit that this is one Ngaio Marsh that I haven't read. I can see, too, how one might get bogged down if there's a lot of information one's not familiar with in the book. Still, I'm glad it picked up at the end, and you were able to enjoy the unfolding of the plot.

Beattie's Book Blog said...

Love that 50's cover. Interesting to note that when I started bookselling in Napier back in the late 60's Pan and Fontana were the two major paperback publishers of popular fiction.We used to carry the full backlist of Ngaio Marsh and of course Agatha Christie. they had the same publisher.

Kiwicraig said...

Recently read DIED IN THE WOOL and really enjoyed it (its one of the four set in NZ, and has some WWII spy stuff threaded through too).

Haven't read DEATH IN A WHITE TIE yet, but its sitting on my bookshelf as part of a hardcover omnibus I picked up online recently.

Nice review.

Vanda Symon said...

The Fontana 50's and 60's covers are my favourites. I'm trying to acquire more of them, just for fun.