enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder

I read this book about 5-Jan-2004. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 0. This note was last modified Monday, 05-May-2014 22:30:42 PDT.

This is book 5 of the "Roderick Alleyn" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Strange, the book shows no copyright date. It's a 1978 paperback edition, and mentions three previous printings, but makes no mention of copyright. A mainstream US publisher; what were they thinking? (The ISBN given isn't the one I read; it's one that's in print now. I notice that the cover image on Amazon shows a normal-size wine bottle, with red wine spilled on the table -- completely incompatible with the book. Oh, and a review on Amazon says it was written in 1936.)

Crazy cover, too -- a wine bottle with the neck snapped, with a cork and corkscrew lying by it. The actual wine bottle in the book is a jeroboam of champagne; which would be a different size, shape, and have a different cork style. And of course you don't use a corkscrew to open champagne. And the base of the bottle would have been smashed, not the neck.

Once again Alleyn is involved in a murder in New Zealand, and again it's a theatrical murder. So far they've just reached the point of having pretty much proven that nobody did it. I've been wondering about suicide for a while; but there's a guy who'd have to be an accomplice, and so far there's no sign of a motive for suicide, so that's probably just a reader pushing the envelope.

There's been one mention that Alleyn's vacation is partly for recovery after some surgery, but no mention of what that was about yet. Perhaps it's a clue to connection to an adjacent book, which I haven't picked up on.

This time Alleyn is writing letters to Fox; admittedly some of them are business-related, getting Scotland Yard to look into things (the theater company involved is from England). But no mention of letters to his wife, and there are mentions of his wife; so why doesn't he write her? He often has before. Cashing plot coupons, I guess.

More strange dialect this time -- both in the company and in New Zealand. Marsh is from there, so it's not that surprising it manages to stick it's head in fairly often. And I think travel to other Commonwealth countries was pretty common back then, at Alleyn's social/economic level.

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David Dyer-Bennet