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Journal of No. 118


March 25th, 2012

Some short mysteries and a long mystery @ 04:24 pm

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The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes collects 12 of Conan Doyle's later Holmeses. I'm no Baker Street Irregular, but the intro makes it clear that these are some of the stories written after Conan Doyle killed off his fictional golden goose... until the public clamored for more of them. Most of them make for amusing light entertainment, and it is interesting to see Conan Doyle stretching in different directions (perhaps trying to escape what had become somewhat tedious for him), with Holmes rather than Watson narrating a couple of them, and some other novelties.

Death in a White Tie, by Ngaio Marsh, is a murder mystery set amongst the high society of England during the debutante season, and it provides some jaded insight into that rigmarole. Some good twists and turns, but the thing that niggled at the back of my mind is that some aspects seemed very derivative of Dorothy Sayers. Though Inspector Alleyn is a hard-nosed policeman rather different from the fey Lord Peter, the love-interest subplot in which Alleyn doggedly pursues painter Agatha Troy (known from a previous exploit as a murder suspect) is extremely reminiscent of Wimsey's dogged pursuit of detective novelist Harriet Vane (known from a previous exploit as a murder suspect).

But once you've read all the Lord Peter there is (and there isn't all that much), once could do worse, I suppose, than turn to Ngaio Marsh. But now that I've hit three of the four great female stars of the golden age of detective fiction (adding Dame Agatha to the mix), I may have to have a go at Margery Allingham.
 
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Journal of No. 118