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When my children were small, there were still independent bookstores in our city and a number of used bookstores, as well. It was in one of these that I first discovered Ngaio Marsh, a New Zealander who sits firmly in the classic mystery tradition and is often referred to as one of the Queens of Crime. (I’ll settle for the moniker Marquesa of Mystery, thank you very much.)

Marsh was active in theater production while living in England in the early 1930s where she wrote her first mystery, A Man Lay Dead, introducing the detective Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard. Compared to some of the amateur sleuths or pompous private investigators of the mystery genre, Alleyn is a professional and Marsh elevates him along with a literary style that gives her books depth.

As a theater producer and enthusiast, it is not surprising to find Ngaio Marsh used those references in her titles such as Opening Night or the Shakespearean A Surfeit of Lampreys. 

Why not start at the beginning with the 1934 first in series?

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Andrea Ibanez Kress ()


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