Tuesday, 27 October 1998

Ngaio Marsh: Spinsters in Jeopardy (1954)

Edition: Fontana, 1973
Review number: 146

Much though I think Ngaio Marsh writes better when she goes beyond the standard situations of the crime genre, Spinsters in Jeopardy doesn't really work. It is a thriller rather than a detective story; the identities of the bad guys are known from the start and it is just a matter of accumulating evidence, which is done by infiltrating their headquarters - a medieval castle now the home of an exotic cult which is a cover for a drugs cartel - and catching them in their vile activities. In fact, she has exchanged the conventional gestures of Agatha Christie for those of second-rate thirties thrillers, and she should really have left them alone.

Aside from this, Spinsters in Jeopardy has a distinctly stereotypical view of the French character, which reminds one of more chauvinistic writes such as Christie, and it also suffers by reusing several elements from earlier - and superior - Marsh novel about a conman running a cult as a front for drug smuggling (Death in Ecstasy).

All in all, this is one of her books that is perhaps best avoided.

No comments: