Ngaio Marsh is classed as one of the finest writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction in the 1920s and 30s. Alongside such luminaries as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh’s style came to define the classic murder mystery – a genre which continues to appeal to a universal readership the world over.
Born in New Zealand in 1895, Marsh had a lifelong passion for the theatre and directed and produced many plays in her native country during her lifetime. This informed her novels and many of them have either the acting profession or a theatrical backdrop at the heart of the story.
Marsh wrote 32 mystery novels featuring the detective Roderick Alleyn. Alleyn epitomises the archetypal gentleman detective; handsome, tall, aristocratic and with a career in the army behind him. Alleyn doesn’t have the stand-out personality traits of some of the other classic detectives such as Hercule Poirot or Lord Peter Wimsey, but he is a hugely likeable character; clever and tenacious with a gentle and compassionate side to his nature which sets him apart from his fictional contemporaries.
When we first meet up with Alleyn in A Man Lay Dead he is a bachelor, but in later books he falls for and marries the artist Agatha Troy who goes on to becomes a central character in her own right in twelve of the novels.
The books were adapted for the small screen as The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries and featured the respected actor Patrick Malahide.
Marsh lived into her 90’s and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire. She continued to write until she died in 1982. Her contribution to the genre of crime writing has been immense and Roderick Alleyn is one of the most famous detectives ever created.
You can now get your hands on 7 (yes 7!) collections of her stories. Click on the link below to get a taste of what you can expect