ngaio marsh

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.

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

Musing Mondays (Dec.12)

This week’s Musing Mondays from Should Be Reading asks…

“This week’s musing asks…

What kind of books do you like to read? Why? Provide specific examples.

I read Classics and Mysteries with some Non-fiction, Plays and Short Story collections thrown in. But, as indicated in this week’s Musing Mondays post, if you’re talking about reading just one genre obsessively then it’s mystery (as most readers of my blog already know).

Why do I read mysteries? Who knows? All I rememberer is that I received Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volumes 1 & 2 as a gift when I was 13-14 years old. I started reading Volume 1 and before you can say ‘Red-headed League’ I was hooked.

After Sherlock Holmes, my mother introduced me with the works of Agatha Christie and she became my favourite mystery author. My mother had been a Christie fan for a long time as was my grandmother before her. So, you can say a  love for Christie mysteries runs in my blood. I have read all of Christie’s Miss Marple books, all of her plays, most of her Poirot and non-series books.

But even though mystery is my favourite genre I have barely even scratched the surface of it. I have read some Mary Roberts Rinehart, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Georgette Heyer; etc, etc but I still have so much more to explore. Next year I hope to further explore some of the authors I have already read and discover more new authors.

Booking Through Thursday : Category

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

“Of the books you own, what’s the biggest category/genre?

Is this also the category that you actually read the most?”

That’s easy! It’s definitely mystery. I own every Miss Marple book, most of the Hercule Poirot books and many of the non-series mysteries by Agatha Christie, the entire Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the entire Father Brown collection by G.K. Chesterton and many more by authors like John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh; etc.

Yes, this is the category That I actually read the most. I am always on the lookout for more mystery treats for me to sink my teeth into!