death and the dancing footman

Vintage Mystery Challenge 2012 – Completion

I participated on the Vintage Mystery Challenge 2012 hosted by the wonderful Bev Hankins of My Readers Block.

I had chosen to read from two Vintage Themes (16 books). The themes were,

Deadly Decades: 8 books, one from each time period plus one of your choice (Pre-1900s; 1900-09; 1910-19; 1920-1929; 1930-1939; 1940-1949; 1950-59).

Golden Age Girls: 8 books by female authors OR 8 books with female detectives.

And drumroll, please! I completed the challenge last month! It took me on an average two books per month. I could have done it faster but I didn’t want to. I wanted to savour it as much as possible. But here we are at the end of the road.

Once again, I’d like to thank Bev for hosting this challenge! 🙂

Completed Books:

Deadly Decades: 

Pre-1900s: The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill. (1892)

1900-09: The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (1902)

1910-19: At the Villa Rose. A.E.W. Mason. (1910)

1920-1929: Behind That Curtain. Earl Derr Biggers. (1928)

1930-1939: The Thirteen Problems. Agatha Christie. (1932)

1940-1949: The Body in the Library. Agatha Christie. (1942)

1950-59: 4.50 from Paddington. Agatha Christie. (1957)

Decade of my own choice: 1900-09: In the Fog. Richard Harding Davis. (1901)

Golden Age Girls: 8 books by female authors.

1. The After House. Mary Roberts Rinehart.

2. The Lodger. Marie Adelaide Belloc.

3. A Pocket Full of Rye. Agatha Christie.

4.  The Old Man in the Corner. Baroness Orczy.

5. The Moving Finger. Agatha Christie.

6. Evil Under the Sun. Agatha Christie.

7. Death And The Dancing Footman. Ngaio Marsh.

8. The Beckoning Lady. Margery Allingham.

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Death And The Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh

Death And The Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh was published in 1942. It is the eleventh book in Marsh’s Inspector Roderick Alleyn series.

The mischievous owner of Highfold Manor has been busy planning the ultimate weekend party. He hopes to bring together a group of people who, at best, have an uneasy relationship with each other, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks. What he doesn’t know is that it’s going to be an extremely long weekend, a weekend no one will ever forget.

I enjoyed Death And The Dancing Footman much better than my last Marsh novel, Opening Night. The women in Death And The Dancing Footman are, for one, much less stupid. Also, the dialogues are much better.

Death And The Dancing Footman is set in Highfold Manor at Dorset. As the party is all assembled there a terrible storm starts, leaving the roads deep in snow and the mansion is totally cut off from civilization. I am very fond of cosy mysteries set in isolated places with no way out.  Christie’s And Then There Were None, Evil Under the Sun and Cyril Hare’s An English Murder come to mind. But somehow I didn’t enjoy the atmosphere of Highfold Manor as much as I should have.

The mystery is good. I suspected almost everyone by turns.

The narrative does go a bit slowly. I do get that they are stuck in a snowbound mansion in the middle of nowhere. But still the time between the beginning & the crime and from the crime to its solution feels like an eternity.

Among the characters I found Jonathan Royal to be really irritating. He is childish, selfish and even harmful at times. Why would anyone want to be his friend is beyond me. Aubrey Mandrake was another childish, whiny sort of character. All the members of the Compline family are uniformly bland.

Detective Roderick Alleyn doesn’t really do much. He shows up after more than half of the book is over. He asks a few questions and solves the thing pretty easily. I’m still not sure how he hit upon the solution to the mystery.

As I have mentioned earlier the women in this book are not stupid, which is a relief for me. Almost all of them are strong characters, whether good or evil. Although I was annoyed by everyone falling in love with Chloris Wynne just because she is blonde and beautiful. She does however admit that she is not a natural blonde, which made her more likeable.

I don’t like too much romance in my mystery. One of the romances did begin to annoy me mostly because of the man but the woman sort of redeemed it.

The ending was satisfying but I do have a few qualms about the character of the murderer. I feel that the motive behind the crime abruptly changes the character of the murderer. It doesn’t really make sense.

Even though I did have some problems with Death And The Dancing Footman, I overall enjoyed the book. It is a nice, satisfying cosy mystery.

Teaser Tuesdays (June 5)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

“We can’t leave stray automatics lying about, Jonathan. Not with a homicidal lunatic at large.”

 Death And The Dancing Footman”  by Ngaio Marsh