By Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy
(294 pages, mystery, 2018)
Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn is trying to write letters in a run-down convalescent hospital in New Zealand during World War II. He’s attempting to write one to his wife, Troy, but can’t find the words. It’s midsummer in the remote area and a storm is threatening. Suddenly Alleyn is thrust into a calamity! A van has broken down, and the driver, Mr. Glossup, a payroll delivery clerk, is told by the Matron of the hospital that he must keep his cash in their safe for the night. But then the money is stolen, an older man’s body is lost, something terrible happens to the Matron, and all manner of commotion breaks loose. Alleyn, who was sent there for a completely different reason, must take charge. The storm hits, the bridge loses planks and looks impassable, and the telephone lines are down. They are alone. There’s lots of action, and wonderful characters: soldiers, nurses, doctors, a vicar, and a drunken porter. There’s stolen money, mysterious disappearances, ancient, sacred Māori caves, troubled lovers, espionage – this tale has it all! And numerous references to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is a lot going on in this quick read, and I was sad to see it end.
I enjoy these mystery authors: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Josephine Tey. But Ngaio Marsh’s characters, plots and settings make her my favorite. I cannot recommend her highly enough. When Ngaio Marsh died in 1982 she left the opening chapters of this book, and author Stella Duffy was asked to finish this mystery. Stella Duffy, who is also a theatrical producer and playwright, did a wonderful job. I thought that I had read all of Ngaio Marsh’s books, so this was a real find. And I encourage you to give Ngaio Marsh’s other mysteries a try, too!
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