Ngaio Marsh was one of the great names of the Golden Age of detective fiction, but I I’ve seldom if ever mentioned her in this blog. The omission isn’t due to disregard. In my teens, I read quite a few of her books, but although I thought her a smooth writer, the plots didn’t match up to those of Christie or Sayers, and before long I focused my attention on more contemporary writers, such as Michael Gilbert and Julian Symons.
But every now and then I’ve dabbled in Marsh. For instance, I watched one or two of the Inspector Alleyn mysteries on television, and I recently treated myself to the box set (when I’ll ever find time to watch all the episodes is a conundrum I haven’t solved as yet.) And I very much enjoyed Margaret Lewis’s biography of Ngaio. It’s a substantial work, tirelessly researched, by an academic with a huge love of detective fiction. In fact, Margaret, along with her husband Peter, preside over Flambard Press, an excellent small press who brought out Dancing for the Hangman late last year.
Margaret also helped me to include a short article by Ngaio which I featured in a collection of Northern crime writing called Northern Blood. How I managed to justify including something by a New Zealander in a book focusing on the North of England is another story!
I’ve now obtained a copy of Ngaio Marsh: the woman and her work. This is a collection of essays edited by B.J.Rahn – who, is, like Margaret, an academic whose passion for the genre is matched by her knowledge and understanding of it. The contributors include Margaret, Julian Symons, Catherine Aird, Harry Keating and Doug Greene. I’m looking forward to reading it.