Dead diva, the soprano Isabella Sommita, was widely loathed, so much so that the problem is less a lack of suspects than an embarrassment of options. Though the grand country-house – and with it, the country-house murder mystery – was history by 1980, the author got around the problem by setting Photo Finish on a lavish island estate, cut off from the mainland by a sudden storm. Happily, Inspector Alleyn is among the guest and can take charge in the absence of the local constabulary. The penultimate novel in this series, Photo Finish, is also one of only four books set in Ngaio Marsh's native New Zealand. (Synopsis edited from the description on the back cover of the paperback.)
This is another great Marsh crime novel. Unlike Elizabeth George, whose books generally run over 600 pages, Marsh can tell her story in 250 pages with an interesting and complex plot whose solution is not evident until the closing scenes, and involve us with equally interesting and complex characters.
After I finish the last book in this series, I plan to read Marsh's autobiography and at least one second-party biography. Also after I finish the last book, I plan to start reading the Albert Campion novels of Margery Allingham, from start to finish.
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