Sunday, March 02, 2008

Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh

Details: First published 1942; cover shown is the 1969 Fontana Books (UK) fourth impression paperback. 285p.

Blurb: "Now let me get this straight," said Mandrake in slow wonder. "In one weekend you hope to reconcile a rejected lover, not only to his late love but also to his successor; a ruined beauty to a member of the profession that made a gruesome effigy of her face... and a mother to a girl who has rejected her favourite son for his brother!"

"Well, yes," answered Jonathan Royal. "I mean, the weekend will be far more fun if they all loathe each other..."

Verdict: Definitely one of Marsh's best! Eight people stuck in an English country mansion while a snow storm rages outside, effectively cutting off any means of escape. Inside, Jonathan Royal's grand plan to 'observe human psychology' becomes unstuck, as his house guests bicker and fight amongst themselves and a number of murder attempts are made. When a murder is successfully carried out, it seems the victim has been mistakenly killed. Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn makes a very late entrance - not arriving on the scene until page 187.

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