Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Ngaoi Marsh: Vintage Murder

Just see that title - postmodern isn't it?

Vintage Murder was first published in 1937, and is set in the days of Alleyn's courtship of (with?) Troy. He is on holiday in New Zealand, getting away from it all. The whole book is basically a sort of colonial's defence of the real motherland, and also a bit of a tourist brochure to be honest.

Alleyn shares a night train with a group of travelling actors heading for the fictional town of Middleton. Two suspicious things happen on the journey: a theft and an assault on one of the managers of the stage company. The two incidents are seen as disturbing and odd, but are kept quiet. After their Middleton show, however, when the troupe and some guests are all gathered on the stage for a birthday celebration for the leading lady, murder is done. With a vintage bottle of bubbly, no less.

I enjoyed the book but it's not one of my favourites. The solution was hard to get to on your own unless you studied the plans of the theatre building, helpfully enclosed, of course.

Definite what-the-hell moment for the description of the Maori doctor, Rangi Te Pokiha. You see, he's civilized, just like us, but when he gets angry the savage comes out! Not so modern that. But I seem to perceive that the word savage, when applied to a person who was of native descent, wasn't as harsh as we'd percieve it today. I must look in some old dictionaries.


Ing said...

Ok, have just put on hold my first two Ngaoi Marsh, Death and the dancing footman and A man lay dead. Chosen purely due to availability. I'm a sucker for murder mysteries and the more vintage the better! I'll blame you if I don't like them ;-)...

bani said...

A Man Lay Dead isn't very good, but Vintage Murder is grand! So they're good for comparisons if nothing else. Well done. I applaud your initiative.