While visiting friends in Port Townsend on Thursday, I noted they were reading Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982). I read Marsh’s wonderful novels many years ago and most of them reside on my mystery bookshelves. Marsh was a proud and loyal New Zealander who spent much time in England, particularly in the theater scene. She was very involved with theater in New Zealand as well. She is just at the young end of the group of women detective fiction writers from between the World Wars, writers that included Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham. And, especially like Sayers and Allingham, she created a young, interesting male lead in Roderick Alleyn. These authors brought particular perspectives to the roles of men and women in a changing society. I’ll be writing a lot more about all of them in coming days.
Ngaio Marsh’s novels are terrific, and I’m so happy to be reminded of them. I may even start reading them again from the beginning! Here’s the list if you want to give it a go: A Man Lay Dead (London 1934; New York 1942); Enter A Murder (London, 1935; New York 1942); The Nursing Home Murder with Henry Jellett (London 1935, New York, 1941); Death in Ecstasy. (London: 1936; New York, 1941); Vintage Murder (London: 1937; New York, 1940); Artists in Crime (London and New York, 1938); Death in a White Tie. (London and New York, 1938); Overture to Death (London and New York, 1939); Death at the Bar (London and Boston 1940); Death of a Peer (Boston 1940; pub. as Surfeit of Lampreys. London, 1941); Death and the Dancing Footman (Boston, 1941; London, 1942); Colour Scheme (London and Boston, 1943); Died in the Wool (Auckland, 1944; London and Boston,1945); Final Curtain (London and Boston, 1947); A Wreath for Rivera (Boston, 1949; pub. as Swing. Brother. Swing. London: 1949); Night at the Vulcan (Boston, 1951; pub. as Opening Night, London, 1951); Spinsters in Jeopardy (Boston, 1953; London, 1954; pub. as The Bride of Death, New York, 1955); Scales of Justice (London and Boston, 1955); Death of a Fool (Boston, 1956; pub. as Off with His Head. London, 1957); Singing in the Shrouds (Boston, 1958; London, 1959); False Scent (Boston and London,1960); Hand in Glove (Boston and London, 1962); Dead Water (Boston, 1963; London, 1964); Killer Dolphin (Boston, 1966; pub. as Death at the Dolphin (London, 1967); Clutch of Constables (London, 1968; Boston 1969); When in Rome (London, 1970; Boston, 1971); Tied Up in Tinsel (London, and Boston, 1972); Black as He’s Painted (London and Boston, 1974); Last Ditch. (Boston and London, 1977); Grave Mistake (Boston and London, 1978); Photo Finish (London, and Boston, 1980); Light Thickens. (London and Boston, 1982).