My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**note: I'm reading through all the Alleyn mysteries in order**
Perhaps the greatest thing about this book was the cover art of the edition I read; the Jove edition of 1983, which works really hard to portray the gratuitous sex and occult that is only hinted at. Heroin, which does play a large role, is not depicted. Interesting.
I do enjoy Marsh and her characterizations; even when she's not placing her mysteries in a theater filled with actors, she places theatrical people in the plots. Exaggerations of types. Like the guard who "seems to speak in capitals." And Alleyn, in another character's words, has "British Manufacture stamped some place where it won't wear off. All this quiet deprecation--it's directly from a sure-fireBritish best-seller." And Mr. Ogden, who is "so like an American as to be quite fabulous." Highly entertaining.
Further description of Mr. Ogden; "He was a type that is featured heavily in transatlantic publicity, tall, rather fat and inclined to be flabby, but almost incredibly clean, as though he used all the deodorants, mouth washes, soaps and lotions recommended by his prototype periodicals."
"Oh yeah? Is that so?" continued Ogden; and then, for all the world as if he was an anthology of Quaint American Sayings, he completed the trilogy by adding in a soft undertone: "Sez you?"
Then there's Miss Wade, who the detective keeps forgetting to consider, but is finally interviewed; "Before that I had not been aware of her presence in Father Garnette's rooms. She had arrived before I did and had gone through the hall, no doubt. I left my overshoes outside," added Miss Wade with magnificent irrelevancy.
And Inspector Fox, who "chose the only small chair in the room and made it look foolish."
Then there's the moment when Marsh acknowledges she's writing a mystery of a type and she is walking in some pretty big footsteps. Alleyn ask Nigel, his Watson, who is pick for the murderer is after the initial interviews; "It depends on the author. If it's Agatha Christie, Miss Wade's occulted guilt drips from every pate. Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter would plump for Pringle, I fancy. Inspector French would go for Ogden."
I have said this with Marsh before; the mystery is secondary for me. I just like wandering around in the worlds she creates.
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