Book and author news – various items

April 30, 2015 at 10:40 pm (Book review, books, Mystery fiction)

Where the world of crime fiction is concerned, Carol of the Usual Suspects does a great job of keeping us group members informed. She recently sent along information about a Google doodle that pays homage to the great Golden Age writer Ngaio Marsh. The doodle appeared only in Marsh’s native New Zealand, so one would have known nothing of it had we not been specifically alerted to its existence:


Shortly thereafter, Carol forwarded an article on Marton Cottage, once home to Dame Ngaio.





One of my favorite novels by Ngaio Marsh is Death in a White Tie. This is as much a novel of manners as a mystery, providing as it does a close-up look at the ‘London season’ with all its social commotion and marriage market significance. It’s a poignant tale of loss, and an even more poignant love story. The tone commingles compassion and irony. The writing is unfailingly graceful and precise.


Ngaio Marsh 1895-1982


What a splendid job Felony & Mayhem Press has been doing in bringing so many of Ngaio Marsh’s Roderick Alleyn novels back into print. Click here for the full list.

Clutch of Constables, another of my favorites

Clutch of Constables, another of my favorites

And click here to hear Dame Ngaio explain how she first came to the writing of crime fiction.

Thanks so very much, Carol, for pointing  me to all this excellent material!


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In her Washington Post review of  Jane Smiley’s Early Warning, Valerie Sayers proclaims: “In an era of tweets, texts and flash fiction, the big, juicy novel is ascendant again.” One can only say, thank goodness!

Early Warning is the second volume in a projected three volume trilogy. Some Luck, the first, moves at a slow, deliberate, even magisterial pace. One learns, like the Midwestern farm folk in the novel, to become attuned to the slow unfolding of events. I loved the book, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel.


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And speaking of anticipated sequels, Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, a follow-up to Life After Life, is due out here on May 5. With its digressive, nonlinear narrative, Life After Life was a book I was prepared to dislike. In fact, I expected  to be unable to get through it. In the event, it held me spellbound – a masterpiece of compelling storytelling.


Some months ago, I received word that Martin Edwards was writing a nonfiction work on the beginnings of the Detection Club and the rise of crime fiction in England in the early years of the twentieth century. It was to be called The Golden Age of Murder. I pre-ordered on Amazon as soon as I could, and two days ago it came:


Subtitled The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented  the Modern Detective Story, this is a tome of substance, clocking in at some 457 pages (including bibliography). I plan to hold off for as long as I can before plunging in. It looks delicious!

Congratulations are due Martin Edwards, himself a wonderful crime fiction writer (and blogger) and a distinguished scholar of the genre as well.


Martin Edwards, at a panel discussion I had the privilege of attending as part of a Smithsonian tour in 2007. As a result of attending various crime fiction conclaves, several of us from the Usual Suspects have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Edwards, an unfailingly generous and gracious man.


  1. Carol said,

    You’re very welcome, Roberta. I enjoy keeping the Usual Suspects up to date on mystery-world happenings. Once a teacher, always a teacher!

  2. Nan said,

    I love the google doodle. And my copy of Martin Edwards’ book just arrived, too! Oh, boy it looks wonderful.

  3. Shirley ONeill said,

    Ngaio Marsh is one of my all time favorites. I re-read her at least once every couple of years, A Clutch of Constables being my favorite. Thank you for sharing this fabulous information.

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Hi, Shirley,
      It’s a pleasure as always to meet another Ngaio Marsh fan. So you are very welcome!

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