enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Ngaio Marsh, Photo Finish

I read this book about 28-May-2014. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1980. This note was last modified Monday, 02-Jun-2014 08:12:40 PDT.

This is book 31 of the "Roderick Alleyn" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


A complex double invitation to New Zealand, for Troy to paint an opera singer, and Roderick to look into why a photographer is stalking her and selling uglier and uglier pictures of her to the tabloids. Meanwhile, the singer has picked up a new boy-toy who thinks he's a composer (though he manages a few moments of doubt, at least).

It's not clear yet who's going to die. No doubt that will come along eventually. Or we could have a perfectly good book investigating a crime short of murder, at least as far as I'm concerned; but I doubt her main audience would have been happy.

Huh; the composer has realized, on page 21, that his opera is mediocre, and that even the best voice can't save it. And that his lover and the best singer of their time nevertheless has no musical judgment. He's working as her secretary, as well as being her lover (which her established rich lover shows no signs of resenting, but it's very carefully pointed out that his attitude towards her entire entourage is so neutral as to scarcely exist), so he's sufficiently established that he'd have trouble leaving. And she's pretty clearly decided to produce his opera, which I guess he now realizes would be an embarrassment for him as well as her.

The house is on an island, and a big storm comes up that cuts them off for a full day, delaying the arrival of the real police. At least Alleyn manages to communicate in morse code with the launch driver on shore and tell him they need the police.

And eventually the singer is killed. With a photo pinned to her by a knife thrust that isn't what killed her. Lots of suspects, a fair amount of opportunity and so forth. And Alleyn is working under considerable handicaps, as he has no authority except that granted him by the host.

Since the host turns out to be part of the conspiracy to kill her (as part of an old Sicilian family feud), it was probably a mistake to invite Alleyn. But I guess his hand was forced by a previous letter.

Troy never does get to paint the portrait. And she's not a landscape painter, so the wonderful landscape doesn't do her much professional good.


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David Dyer-Bennet