Death of a Fool, by Ngaio Marsh

What? A new “Golden Age Girl” for my Vintage Mystery Challenge? Delightful!

I had never heard of Ngaio (pronounced “Nye-oh”) Marsh, but my friend Jessica has been pushing me to read her, and in my “I have nothing to read doo doo doo” searching of OverDrive for an audiobook, I found two that fit my reading challenge. Perfection! I couldn’t decide between the two, so I asked Wikipedia to tell me what they were about. It then just outright spoiled one of the books, so the other it was!

And I’m quite happy with the one I read. It’s from near the middle of Marsh’s bibliography, so it’s got a nice established detective who does not long to be Holmes and also it is obvious that Marsh still likes her detective (I don’t know if she ever doesn’t; I am basing this statement on my experiences with other writers).

AND it’s a locked room mystery, and I love me a good padlocked door.

Well, except that there’s not actually a door. Or a lock. Which kind of makes it awesomer. What happens here is that there’s one of those pagan plays, with the dancing and the running around chasing girls and all, and this same family has been doing the play forever, and they’re doing it again, except this time there’s some German lady who drove out for two days to see the play but the fact that she’s annoying the crap out of everyone means no one wants her to go see the play, and also there’s some infighting amongst the family people who are all kind of sick of each other, and there’s a sort of prodigal granddaughter returning to her homeland and also being in love with someone in the play, and whatever and the play goes on and then suddenly the family Patriarch is supposed to have a line or something except he doesn’t say it because he has been BEHEADED. In front of everyone, because where else would he be, except no one saw it.

And that, my friends, is intriguing. All those things from before the play come into importance when Inspector Alleyn shows up and is all omg everyone seems to have wanted this guy dead, but no one could have done it, and also the way he seems to have died is just not right and what the heck actually happened?

So it’s good, is what I’m saying. I liked that there were a bunch of clues that I could figure out, and I solved what is sort of the first mystery before it was revealed, but even with just a few minutes left to go on audio I wasn’t sure what the answer to the whole mystery was. And when I heard the answer, I wasn’t like, what. I was like, “Ohhhhhhh, iiiiiiinteresting.” Also, there is a re-enactment, and although no one has to shut up and be a corpse, it’s still a fun time. I will definitely be reading more Marsh in the future.

Recommendation: Do you like classic mystery novels? Then read this.

Rating: 8.5/10
(Global Reading Challenge: Australasia, Vintage Mystery Challenge)

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