EXCERPT: At about eight o’clock on a disarmingly still midsummer evening, Mr Glossop telephoned from the Transport Office at Mt Seager Hospital to his headquarters twenty miles away across the plains. He made angry jabs with his forefinger at the dial – and to its faint responsive tinkling an invisible curtain rose upon a series of events that were to be confined within the dark hours of that short summer night, bounded between dusk and dawn. So closely did these events follow an arbitrary design of a play that the temptation to represent Mr Glossop as an overture cannot be withstood.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Roderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy.
It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks.
Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer.
When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?
MY THOUGHTS: Money in the Morgue is not going to be remembered as my favorite Ngaio Marsh. Although I was initially excited to find this set in New Zealand, it didn’t last. There seemed to be something missing. . . and the story failed to engage me to the extent that I found myself losing interest in parts. But the ending. .. now, that was worth the read and earned this book a whole extra star.
I have to admit to not enjoying Stella Duffy’s narration. Her New Zealand accents sounded far more Australian to me, and soon began to grate on my nerves. I do wonder if I might have enjoyed Money in the Morgue more had I read it rather than listening to it. At some point, I may just do that and see if it alters my opinion at all.
THE AUTHOR: Dame Ngaio Marsh, born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. There is some uncertainty over her birth date as her father neglected to register her birth until 1900, but she was born in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Of all the “Great Ladies” of the English mystery’s golden age, including Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh alone survived to publish in the 1980s. Over a fifty-year span, from 1932 to 1982, Marsh wrote thirty-two classic English detective novels, which gained international acclaim. She did not always see herself as a writer, but first planned a career as a painter.
Marsh’s first novel, A MAN LAY DEAD (1934), which she wrote in London in 1931-32, introduced the detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn: a combination of Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey and a realistically depicted police official at work. Throughout the 1930s Marsh painted occasionally, wrote plays for local repertory societies in New Zealand, and published detective novels. In 1937 Marsh went to England for a period. Before going back to her home country, she spent six months travelling about Europe.
All her novels feature British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. Several novels feature Marsh’s other loves, the theatre and painting. A number are set around theatrical productions (Enter a Murderer, Vintage Murder, Overture to Death, Opening Night, Death at the Dolphin, and Light Thickens), and two others are about actors off stage (Final Curtain and False Scent). Her short story “‘I Can Find My Way Out” is also set around a theatrical production and is the earlier “Jupiter case” referred to in Opening Night. Alleyn marries a painter, Agatha Troy, whom he meets during an investigation (Artists in Crime), and who features in several later novels.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy, narrated by Stella Duffy and published by Harper Collins Publishers, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.
This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2336175884