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17 January 2011

Book Review: Black As He's Painted

Black as He's PaintedBlack as He's Painted by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My least favorite Marsh book so far.  Very dated and rather offensive to modern sensibilities.  That said, please don't rewrite it and remove all allusions to the negro race as Marsh describes them; that would be silly.  The exploration of prejudice itself is very instructive, even if the mystery wanders over into sensationalism in a very un-Marsh-like way.

As a secondary note, I read the Jove paperback, published in the 70s.  Very, very obvious what was selling then;  the back cover blurb talks about a murder that might start World War Three when there's not even a hint of something of that within the text of the book.  Marsh's name is written in a font that my son said looked "bloody and full of terror."  Marketed as a slasher novel.  Yet still a cozy;  a cozy set outside the typical confines of most books of this nature but still featuring the type of persnickety-yet-likeable main character more often found in St. Mary Meade.


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