Ngaio Marsh – Overture to Death (1939)

overture-to-death (1)

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Musical Instrument
Date Finished: February 7, 2016

Well, this is definitely a British Golden Age-style mystery. Unfortunately the puzzle is not very puzzling. In a small English village, eight people are involved with the production of a play in the church hall. Two are very difficult old spinsters, both rivals for the affections of the village rector. Someone murders one of the spinsters with a gun hidden in a piano, but who is the intended victim and who set up this death trap? The first 60 or so pages set up the scene with all the characters and situations, as Marsh liked to do. Although this drags on a bit when you are waiting for the mystery to begin, it is the best part of this novel. Then the murder and investigation change the tone of the work. Alleyn and his Scotland Yard crew are comfortable, though unexciting, and the mystery is certainly not suspenseful. The murderer is fairly obvious with 50 or more pages to go. This was the problem with Death in a White Tie, as well. I’ve got to keep plugging on with these as I have more on the bookshelf, but the blandness does not call out to me to pick them up.

As Alleyn states at one point, “Fox, did you ever know such a case? One cranky spinster is enough, heaven knows; and here we have two, each a sort of Freudian prize packet, and one a corpse on our hands.” Yay, cranky spinsters. Fun stuff.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2016-02-07


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